MOORHEAD -- Even a first round bye couldn't offset a hot defense and an even hotter pitcher as the Woodbury VFW baseball team defeated the Brainerd VFW baseball team 10-0 Friday in the first round of the VFW state playoffs at Matson Field in Moorhead.
Brainerd, who relied on a potent offense to reach the state tournament, was stymied by Woodbury's pitcher Bryan Kloetzke. Kloetzke pitched the complete game, striking out nine and walking only two, to pick up the win. Mike Germain led Brainerd at the plate, going 2-for-3 while Anthony Hennen was 1-for-1 with two walks.
"We're disappointed we didn't hit the ball better," Brainerd coach Joel Lofstrom said. "But when you face a good pitcher that's throwing well and hitting his spots it's tough at the plate. Then throw in a good defense on top of that. Hitting-wise you can be a good hitter and if a guy is on and hitting his spots he can make it tough for you. You can't strike out nine times and expect to put pressure on the other team."
Woodbury, who defeated Perham earlier in the day, jumped all over Brainerd in the first inning with five runs. Woodbury led the inning off with a double and then attempted to bunt the runner over. Brainerd tried to get the lead runner at third but the throw wasn't in time. A rain of hits followed and Brainerd was in a hole it wouldn't recover from.
"Woodbury had some good hitting," Lofstrom said. "They earned it. They're pitcher was tough and had good control. He kept us off balance. They outplayed us."
Brainerd seemed to settle down after the first inning but disaster struck in the fifth as Woodbury scored three runs to ice the game.
"In the fifth they started to hit the ball again," said Lofstrom. "They opened the inning with a single and a home run. The team never quit, we felt we had a chance but it just never materialized. We just never had many opportunities and we couldn't get anything together. (Kloetzke) only walked two guys. I didn't think we were out of the game but we weren't exactly in the game either."
Even with its first loss in the double elimination tournament coming early, Lofstrom was quick to point out that his team isn't ready to throw in the towel just yet. In fact, Lofstrom and the Brainerd players are planning on playing a number of games the rest of the weekend.
"They'll let us play up to six more games if we keep winning," Lofstrom said. "We just need to go out there, have fun and play hard. I haven't seen this team quit once all year. They believed that they would come back and win this game. Now they'll just have to come back in the tournament and try to get a win and keep on going."
Brainerd 000 000 -- 0 5 2
Woodbury 501 031 -- 10 11 1
WP -- Bryan Kloetzke. LP -- Adian Kummet. Overall -- 27-6. Next game -- Saturday 2 p.m. vs. Marshall or Hibbing.
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