Teams from Washington, Colorado and Ohio traveled a long distance to participate in the National Baseball Congress "Hap" Dumont 16-under World Series in Brainerd this week but imagine having to play in two tournaments at once.
That's the predicament the host Brainerd team finds itself in today as it could possibly play two games in the World Series as well as two games in the District 6 VFW tournament in Brainerd.
On Monday, Brainerd held a 7-6 lead going into the sixth inning of its game against Mason, Ohio, at Adamson Field. That lead turned into a 10-7 loss as Mason battled back in the bottom of the sixth.
Brainerd then defeated Burnsville 2-1 in its second game of the day to set up a game against Oakland, Mich., at 8 a.m. today. If Brainerd wins it will play again at 9 a.m. Wednesday. If it loses, Brainerd will need to play another game today at 1 p.m.
That game will be right after Brainerd's first game in the VFW tournament, which starts at 11 a.m. at Adamson Field.
After the 1 p.m. game, depending on how Brainerd did in its first VFW game, it will either play again at 3 or 6 p.m.
How is this possible? Brainerd coach Joel Lofstrom has found ways to win or be competitive in the five games his team has already played in the Dumont tournament.
What he's found is that he has quality pitchers who aren't normally pitchers.
"Every year when we start out with this squad we tell them that they're all pitchers," said Lofstrom. "We try and go through some basic mechanics and some basic things so that when they're on the mound they can be out there and feel comfortable. At some time they probably all will take the mound.
"In fact, of the kids that are here I think maybe two haven't pitched this year."
Brainerd's pitcher Monday was Jon Vanlandschoot, who shut down Mason for five innings, allowing Brainerd to build a 6-2 lead.
"Jon did a good job of throwing strikes and keeping them off-balance," said Lofstrom. "They were ahead of him all day. They were swinging before the ball got there. He threw enough strikes to get the guys out.
"He did a good job but he just kind of ran out of it a little in the fifth inning. He was getting a little tired."
On Sunday, Brainerd received great pitching performances from Mark Germain, David Berndgen, Andy Pickar and Vanlandschoot to set up its game with Mason.
How can two tournaments be scheduled simultaneously? The scheduling, unfortunately, is out of Lofstrom's hands. Plus, his team couldn't pass up the chance to play against the nation's best teams or deny his players the chance at a state tournament.
"The kids are excited to play and they really wanted to be in the World Series tournament," said Lofstrom. "You can't take something like this away from them when you get to play these good teams like this.
"We're one high school and a lot of these teams are a conglomerate of many high schools in a large metropolitan area who take the best players to play on their squad. It's always good to play good competition and we wanted to do that.
"Our kids just really like to play."
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