By losing 6-2 Monday evening at the hands of the Cold Spring Springers at Adamson Field, the Brainerd VFW team must tread the harder path to reach the state tournament.
Brainerd has to defeat St. Cloud West Noon Tuesday for the second time in the District 6 tournament to advance to a championship game -- a rematch with Cold Spring.
The key to Cold Spring's victory was the ability to plate six runs, while collecting only three base hits.
Six walks handed out by Brainerd pitchers and five errors committed by its defense brought the Cold Spring offense to life.
Brainerd VFW head coach Joel Lofstrom attributed the six runs allowed to the six walks issued by Brainerd pitchers.
"We had OK defense, but we walked too many batters," he said. "We fell behind good hitters early in the count and couldn't recover."
Brainerd starting pitcher Brett Cloutier worked four innings, allowing three runs, two of them earned. Cloutier struck out two and walked four.
"I would have liked to control my pitches better," said Cloutier. "I tried mixing it up with my four-seam, two-seam, and curveball.
"There were some close pitches that didn't go my way. Now we have to bounce back and win two games tomorrow."
Brainerd had to wait until the fifth inning for the scoring to start.
Both Brett Kramer and Sam Geraets scored in the top of the fifth when a Bo Jedinak groundball to second base caused an errant throw from Cold Spring's Joby Rausch to first base.
These would be the only runs Brainerd collected off Cold Spring starting pitcher Josh Enquist.
Enquist pitched the complete game, striking out four batters and walking none.
Kramer relieved Cloutier in the fifth inning after Cloutier walked the first batter. He allowed three runs, all in the fifth, in his three innings pitched.
Facing a 6-2 deficit, Enquist retired the Brainerd side in order for both the sixth and seventh innings to earn the win.
St. Cloud West 3
Brainerd opened the tournament with a 5-3 victory over St. Cloud West Monday.
Brainerd's Chris Smolke pitched a complete game to earn the victory. He allowed five hits, striking out two batters with no walks.
St. Cloud West jumped out to a quick lead by scoring two runs in the second inning and one in the third.
St. Cloud pitcher Collin Stinogel opened the fourth inning by walking the first two batters.
He then gave up a single to designated hitter Colton Metzger to quickly pitch into a jam. Six batters, two errors, and three runs later and Brainerd rallied to gain a 4-3 advantage.
Brainerd's Tom Hennen added an insurance run in the seventh inning.
Metzger led the Brainerd offense with two hits and a RBI.
"St. Cloud is a good club with good pitchers, so it should be another close game," said Lofstrom about Tuesday's rematch with St. Cloud West. "We're hitting the best we have all season, but of course the other team is trying to play good defense so it doesn't always work out."
If Brainerd defeats St. Cloud and advances to the championship game, they will have to beat Cold Spring twice to gain a state tournament berth.
Brainerd 5 5 2
St. Cloud West 3 5 4
WP -- Chris Smolke. LP -- Collin Stinogel. 2b -- SCW- Tyler Peterson, Steve Krippner, Brian Kloeppner. SB -- SCW- Kloeppner. Sac -- Brd- Chris Smolke, Nick Jelacie; SCW- Nate Laudenback, Dan Roeder, Krippner. RBI -- Brd- Colton Metzger, Jelacie; SCW- Roeder, Kloeppner. LOB -- Brd- 5; SCW- 4.
Brainerd 2 6 5
Cold Spring 6 3 1
WP -- Josh Enquist. LP -- Brett Cloutier. 2b -- Brd- Chris Smolke; CS- Aaron Traut. SB -- CS- Jon Lardy, Traut, Brad Olson. Sac -- CS- Joby Rausch. RBI -- CS- Traut(2), Olson(2). LOB -- Brd-3; CS- 3.
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