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State VFW baseball: Luverne beats Rochester, stays alive

WILLMAR -- After defeating Duluth East 2-1 on Thursday, the Luverne VFW baseball team split a pair of games on Friday at the state tournament in Willmar. Post 2757 fell to Woodbury 3-2 in a second-round game and defeated Rochester 8-6 in a loser’s bracket game. Luverne will play New Ulm Gold today (Saturday) at 2:30 p.m.

Luverne finally got the big hits in the big spots in the victory over Rochester on Friday, after struggling with runners in scoring position throughout the tournament. It scored five runs on six hits in the third inning.

Derek Lundgren, Declan Beers and Ben Serie strung together three straight singles. Serie drove in Lundgren and Beers with a single to left-center field. Serie scored on a bases-loaded walk by Isaiah Bartels. Nathan Nekali hit a bases-loaded single by the shortstop to drive in Mark Sterrett and Charlie Reisch to take a 5-1 lead.

Luverne added two more in the fourth to make it 7-2 as Serie drove in Beers from third with a single and Serie scored on an error at third base.

Lundgren scored on an error in the sixth to make it 8-3.

Rochester pulled it close, scoring three in the top of the seventh inning and putting the tying run on first, but Post 2757 escaped with a two-run lead. Riley Gora scored from second on a Dalton Schuler single. Zmolek drove a double down the left field line to drive in Aiden Vergas and Dalton Schuler to make it 8-6.

Serie came in to relieve Bartels, who struggled in relief of Beers, and struck out back-to-back batters to close out the game and advance in the loser’s bracket.

Luverne dropped into the loser’s bracket via a 3-2 loss to Woodbury Red earlier in the day on Friday.

Woodbury scored the game-winner on a Zach Conley blooper to left that scored Jay Haus. Haus reached on a strike three passed ball and stole second.

Luverne had the game-tying run in scoring position in the bottom of the seventh, but came up one hit short. Bartels reached on a two-out error by the third baseman and moved to second on a pinch-hit single by Tyler Roberts. But Woodbury pitcher Noah Potter forced a groundout to the shortstop to end the game.

Luverne notched a run in each of the first two innings. Beers hit a solo home run over the right field fence in the first. Bartels drove in Mark Sterrett with a line drive to left in the second to put Post 2757 ahead 2-0.

Woodbury tied it up in the third inning as Mitch Novak scored on a throwing error on a pickoff attempt. And Jay Haus drove in Aaron Parker with a two-out double.

Potter pitched a full seven innings for Woodbury, allowing two runs on five hits with one strikeout and two walks.

Sterrett also went the distance for Luverne, allowing three runs on five hits with two strikeouts and two walks.

Post 2757 defeated Duluth East 2-1, behind a tremendous effort by Beers who was 3-for-3 with a double and scored the game-winning run.

Woodbury 002 001 0 -- 3 5 1Luverne 110 000 0 -- 2 5 3---Rochester 010 110 3 -- 6 8 4Luverne 005 201 x -- 8 10 6