REDWOOD FALLS — Knowing you’ve got a free ride into the state American Legion tournament doesn’t necessarily help a team focus in district tournament play, but Luverne’s Post 123 showed plenty of focus on Friday.
Luverne blew past Welcome-Sherburn 11-0 in six innings in its first Second District Tournament contest, getting good pitching, good defense and timely hitting.
“They played really well today,” said Luverne head coach Barry Shelton of his players.
Because Luverne hosts the state tournament, it will get an automatic bid into it. Concerned about the human tendency to relax because of such good fortune, Shelton has impressed upon his troops the need to stay sharp in the district affair.
Before Friday’s game, he said, “I told them if we lose we’d have to play at 7 p.m. tonight. I said I don’t want to be here all day.”
Luverne (now 12-4) then took care of business.
Because Redwood Falls forfeited its first-round game due to a lack of players, Luverne’s next game was moved up from 4 p.m. to 1 p.m. The opponent will be Jackson, which defeated Wells 6-4 Friday.
Welcome-Sherburn stayed close to Luverne on Friday through three innings, trailing just 2-0 before Post 123 scored four runs in the fourth.
With one out, Connor Crabtree reached on an error by the Welcome-Sherburn first baseman. Tommy Vagjrt and Connor Hoffman reached on singles to load the bases before Logan Norman doubled to bring home two runs. Skyler Wenninger hit a sacrifice fly to score another, and Josh Slieter singled home the fourth run of the inning.
Slieter pitched the full six innings to pick up the mound victory. He allowed just four hits while walking no one and striking out seven.
“He was locating his pitches and getting the ground balls that he needed,” said Shelton.
Slieter helped himself with a two-run home run in the sixth inning. Norman and Wenninger both collected a pair of hits and Crabtree had a double.
R H E
Luverne 011 432 — 11 11 1
W-S 000 000 — 0 4 4
Jackson 6, Wells 4
Jackson overcame a 4-0 deficit by scoring three runs in the bottom of the fourth and three more in the sixth.
Scott Christopher led off the sixth with a double and Josh Christoffer followed with a single. Ryan Christopher singled and later stole second base. Chris Gumto and Jeremiah Flatgard also reached in the inning.
Gumto pitched a complete game victory, checking Wells on eight hits. He issued no walks and struck out eight.
Post 130’s bats took awhile to warm up. The team had just one hit through the first three innings but collected five of them in the fourth.
Easton Bahr, Scott Christopher, Josh Christoffer, Ryan Christopher and Gumto all finished with two safeties in the game.
The victory improved Jackson’s summer record to 9-3.
R H E
Wells 100 300 0 — 4 8 0
Jackson 000 303 x — 6 12 2