Spartans qualify for state
The Rochester Spartans advance to the VFW State Tournament in Alexandria next week after defeating the Red Wing 4-3 in the VFW First District championship game.
In the title game at Red Wing, the Spartans held a 3-0 lead until the bottom of the fifth inning when Red Wing came back with a three-run, two-out rally to tie the game. Rochester failed to score in the top of the sixth.
Red Wing then led off the bottom of the sixth getting a runner on via a misplayed flyball. Aaron Senne (7-0 with a 1.56 ERA) came in to relieve Ben Gerlesberger and on the first pitch attempted to pick off the Red Wing runner at first base. The runner was caught in a rundown but was able to get back into first just before the outfield lights at Athletic Field went out due to a blown transformer. The game was then suspended to be finished later.
When the game was rescheduled Tuesday, rains came through and caused another delay. When the game resumed, Rochester and Senne were able to hold Red Wing scoreless in the sixth after two fine plays at shortstop by Ben Becker.
Andy Leisen then led off the top of the seventh with a base hit to right. Brandon O'Reilly then bunted Leisen over to second base. With one out, Senne lined a full-count pitch into right field where Red Wing right fielder Steve Boldt threw a strike to home plate to put out Leisen.
After Ryan Rank was intentionally walked, Zach Nesler came through with a line drive to center field, scoring pinch-runner Luke Augustin on another close play at the plate to give Rochester a 4-3 lead. Senne got Red Wing to pop out three times in the bottom of the seventh to give the Spartans the victory and the district title.
Rochester will now represent the First District in the VFW State Tournament August 9-12 in Alexandria.
The Spartans, coached by Jim Senne, started District play with a 10-4 win over Red Wing on Saturday morning. Rank went 3-for-4 with a solo home run, Nick Larson went 2-for-4 with a two-run blast and Schuyler Townsend went 3-for-4 as Rochester pounded out 16 hits.
Saturday's winners bracket game had the Spartans and Northfield playing with the winner moving on to Sunday's championship game and the loser having to work its way out of the losers bracket. Senne went 6 1/3 innings in a 6-3 win for the Spartans, striking out six and giving up six hits and one earned run. Jon Aaland got the final two outs for the save. Ben Becker had three RBIs and Dustin Donahue two.
The Spartans lost 5-0 to Red Wing to set up the final game.
The Spartans take a 20-19 record into the state meet. They tied for first place in the First District West Division, and took second in the First District West Division tournament. The Spartans have a team batting average of .324 and a team ERA of 4.11.
Team members are:
Ryan Rank, Zach Nesler, Brandon O'Reilly, Jon Aaland, Schuyler Townsend, Fairman Campbell, Nick Larson, Dustin Donahue, Sam Leof, Ben Gerlesberger, Ben Becker, Brian Sommerfeldt, Luke Augustin, Andy Leisen, Aaron Senne, Ryan Russell, Chris Lombardo, Noah Nesler and Ben Kroll. Coaches are Jim Senne, Pete Gerlesberger and Ed Leof.