VFW BASEBALL: Luverne finishes 1-2 at VFW state tournamentBEMIDJI — The Luverne VFW baseball team learned a pretty big lesson in their state tournament appearance over the weekend — in baseball, one inning can change everything.
By: Daily Globe , Worthington Daily Globe
BEMIDJI — The Luverne VFW baseball team learned a pretty big lesson in their state tournament appearance over the weekend — in baseball, one inning can change everything.
Luverne put on a solid performance in its three tournament games, but a pair of tough innings cost the team dearly as it put together a 1-2 record over the three games.
Luverne opened the tournament with a strong 8-2 victory against Perham thanks to a dominant performance on the mound by Skyler Wenninger.
Wenninger pitched a one-hitter in a complete-game performance, striking out 10 batters along the way.
Josh Slieter followed up with a good showing on the mound as Luverne took on Grand Rapids in its next contest. However, one bad inning proved costly as Luverne fell by a 4-2 score.
Slieter allowed only eight hits in a complete-game effort, but six of the hits came in the same inning, leading to all four of Grand Rapids’ runs.
Luverne seemed poised to bounce back in its game against powerhouse Eagan — the eventual tournament champion — but let a 4-0 lead slip in the sixth inning, resulting in a 9-4 loss.
Brett Heronimus started on the mound for Luverne, completing six innings.
Eagan scored its first runs in the contest in the sixth inning on back-to-back bases loaded errors by the Luverne defense — a defense that hadn’t committed any errors in its first two games.
“We had four errors in the tournament and all four of them were in the last game,” Luverne head coach Mike Wenninger said. “It was good baseball, they did a nice job.”
Reed Skattum finished the game on the mound in relief of Heronimus.
Though Luverne proved it could take on teams from much more populous regions, one thing Coach Wenninger noticed was the advantage those teams had in terms of pitching depth.
“I think what I noticed the most is that when we were playing the larger schools, they might have been a little bit deeper in pitching than what we were,” Coach Wenninger said.
With Luverne’s previous state tournament appearance coming in 1994, Coach Wenninger was glad his players were able to gain exposure to such a high level of competition.
“I’m hoping it gave them a lot of confidence to know that we can handle a lot of the things that we saw,” Coach Wenninger said.
However, that isn’t to say Luverne didn’t see plenty of good competition in the south part of the state on its road to the state tournament.
Luverne had to survive against perennial powerhouses such as Worthington, who represented southern Minnesota in the state tournament last year.
“I think Luverne making it this year was a nice thing,” Wenninger said. “We also had Worthington make it the past couple of years and they have been very successful, so that says a lot for the south part on Minnesota being successful in those areas that we can at least compete against these guys. Whether it be Luverne, or Marshall, Worthington or Pipestone, I think we’ve been at least handling ourselves fairly well.”
Luverne finished its season with a 24-11 overall record.