BRAINERD — The Grand Rapids Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) baseball team split its first two games at the state VFW tournament in Brainerd, beating Forest Lake 11-2 on Thursday and then dropping a 2-0 nail biter to Foley Friday morning.
The local VFW team continued play Friday afternoon in its quest to come back through the loser’s bracket and claim a state title. With one loss in the double-elimination tournament, Tulla feels that Grand Rapids has enough depth in pitching to still make a run at the state title.
“I told the kids it was a good ball game (against Foley) but that’s the way it goes and you have to come ready to play this next game,” Tulla said. “You have to flush it because if this carries over to the next game, then you are defeating the purpose of it.
“Now we are just going to take it game-by-game, pitch-by-pitch and hopefully we can get a win this afternoon (Friday) and then we will go from there on Saturday.
“Obviously you are going to start getting down to other teams’ three, four, five pitchers and sometimes in those scenarios the games are a little higher scoring. But I feel that we have a lot of pitching so I feel comfortable if we are able to come through that loser’s bracket.”
Game No. 1
Grand Rapids 11
Forest Lake 2
Grand Rapids had the bats going strong in the opener as it downed Forest Lake 11-2.
Kodi Miller hurled a complete game on the mound for Grand Rapids, allowing two runs on five hits while striking out 11 and issuing six walks in his seven innings of work.
Henry Sterle led a potent Rapids offense with four hits – with a pair of triples – and five RBIs but he was hardly the whole show. Ren Morque had two triples and two RBIs and Myles Gunderson had two hits and three RBIs. Miller and Dan Wohlers both had two hits.
“We just hit the cover off the ball,” said Grand Rapids VFW manager Greg Tulla. “We haven’t hit like that all year. We had 13 hits and in all honesty, there wasn’t a cheap one in the bunch. I mean they were missiles.”
Game No. 2
Grand Rapids 0
In Grand Rapids’ second game of the tournament on Friday morning, Foley came out on top of Rapids by a 2-0 margin.
Foley scored the lone run it would need in the first inning and added another run in the fifth inning off Grand Rapids pitcher Myles Gunderson who finished by allowing just one earned run on five hits while striking out five and not issuing a walk.
“We had a chance in the top of the seventh when we had guys on second and third with no one out but we couldn’t get the big hit,” said Tulla. “Myles Gunderson pitched well for us as he threw only 64 pitches in six innings.”
Foley’s Michael Monzolf hurled a three-hit shutout for Foley in picking up the win on the mound.
“(Monzolf) had three pitches; he wasn’t overpowering but he changed speeds and he would throw his curveball on a 3-1 count,” Tulla said. “He had good control and he had us on our front foot a little bit.”
Picking up hits for Grand Rapids were Gunderson, Kodi Miller with a double, and Dan Wohlers had the other hit.