Slayton VFW team eliminated

GRANITE FALLS -- Slayton VFW baseball coach Ryan Beers couldn't explain it. His team had won three consecutive playoff games and four of its past five overall to advance to Saturday's VFW Final Four. Beers' confidence and expectations were high. ...

GRANITE FALLS -- Slayton VFW baseball coach Ryan Beers couldn't explain it.

His team had won three consecutive playoff games and four of its past five overall to advance to Saturday's VFW Final Four.

Beers' confidence and expectations were high. Slayton, which was playing its best baseball of the summer, was riding a hot streak.

The change was abrupt.

Looking overmatched and unfocused, Slayton lost two consecutive games Saturday and was eliminated from the playoffs. Slayton lost 6-0 to Marshall Blue and 6-2 to Tracy.


"I thought we were in such a good place mentally and attitude-wise because of the way we played in Pipestone," Beers said. "There was enthusiasm and fire, and I just felt we were in a good place.

"But, obviously, we didn't throw strikes or play defense (Saturday)."

In the Southern Division playoffs at Pipestone last weekend, Slayton scored 38 runs over five games and was solid both offensively and defensively.

On Saturday, the pitching staff issued 15 walks. The defense committed eight errors. The offense advanced just two runners as far as third base, went 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position and failed to score an earned run.

"It was a different dugout, a different atmosphere," Beers said. "I don't know how, in five days, that could change so much."

Marshall pitcher Andrew Larsen struck out the side in the top of the first inning, and, from there, Slayton's problems began to snowball.

Slayton starter Eric Wieneke hit the first batter he faced and walked the next.

Nathan Schaeffer followed with an RBI single, and Wieneke walked Larsen.


After allowing a sacrifice fly, which scored the second run of the inning, Wieneke recorded a strikeout for the second out. But the inning was far from over.

A wild pitch and a bases-loaded walk scored two more runs, and, after his third consecutive walk, Wieneke was pulled after two-thirds of an inning pitched.

Derek Platt entered in relief and got the final out, leaving the bases loaded, but the damage was already done.

Although it recorded just one hit in the inning, Marshall gained a 4-0 advantage, momentum and confidence.

"When we can get up early in a game, it helps everyone relax and get more confidence, and it gave our pitcher a lot of confidence," Marshall coach Matt Suby said. "When you can get a lead early in a game, it automatically puts pressure on the other team, and that's what you want to do."

Larsen's confidence was apparent. The 16-year-old cruised to a complete-game victory, allowing just two runners to reach second base while scattering four hits. He finished with 10 strikeouts.

Back-to-back Slayton errors to start the second inning led to another unearned run, and a lead-off walk issued in the sixth led to the sixth and final run of the game for Marshall, which recorded just three hits.

"If you walk a guy, that's OK, but they've played enough baseball that there has to be an adjustment," Beers said. "You can't walk two guys then get an out and walk another guy. If you make an error, that's human, but you can't make two or three. Somehow you have to change your approach.


"I just get angry inside, frustrated, and have to calm myself down."

Platt did a great job of keeping Slayton within striking distance. He allowed just one hit and an unearned run over two-and-one-third innings pitched before leaving with a finger injury suffered on a ball hit back to the mound.

Platt returned for Slayton's second game and started at shortstop with his fingers swollen and wrapped. But he witnessed a first inning eerily and frustratingly similar to that in the loss to Marshall.

Wieneke, after throwing less than an inning just hours earlier, started on the mound against Tracy.

He issued a walk to the lead-off hitter, Taylor Hoffbeck, who was later thrown out trying to steal second on the third strike issued to No. 2 hitter Alex Jones.

Even with two outs and the bases empty, Wieneke's first inning, again, was far from over.

He allowed back-to-back singles and a walk to load the bases. Zack Campbell followed with a two-run double, and Eric Carter delivered an RBI single to score Tracy's fourth run of the inning and to chase Wieneke from the game after two-thirds of an inning pitched.

Tracy added two more unearned runs in the fifth and finished with 11 hits.


Slayton, which committed three errors, went 0-for-5 with runners in scoring position.

Travis DeLong went 2-for-4 with a double and two walks, and Ryan Prahm went 2-for-4 over both games combined to lead Slayton.

While he struggled on the mound, Wieneke went 3-for-6 with a run Saturday.

"I'm just going to keep things positive," Beers said, smiling. "I've been around a lot of baseball, and there have been worse days than this."


Slayton 000 000 0 -- 0 4 5

Marsh. 410 001 x -- 6 3 0



Tracy 400 020 0 -- 6 11 2

Slayton 001 000 1 -- 2 4 3

What To Read Next
Get Local