Starbuck VFW Post 4582 Baseball Team Is Headed To State

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The Starbuck VFW Post 4582 baseball team is headed to state!

VFW TeamStarbuck earned the trip to the state tournament by defeating the Alex 16 team by a 3-2 score on Monday night in Willmar. Starbuck went through the District 5 tournament undefeated, winning 9-3 over Dawson, 3-1 over Willmar, 7-5 over Alex 16 on Sunday, then again Monday.
Alex 16 would have had to win the first game Monday, then win again in a second game to advance to state, but Starbuck put an end to that scenario with their exciting win.
Shawn Stumpf started the game on the hill for Starbuck. Two singles and a hit batter resulted in a first inning run for Alex, but Stumpf settled in and threw shutout ball over the next four innings.
In the meantime, the Starbuck hitters were slowly getting accustomed to the heat being thrown by Alex starter Brock Anderson, who struck out five batters in the first three innings.
But in the fourth inning Starbuck broke through. Matthew Gruber reached second after a throwing error by the Alex shortstop. One out later Colin Richardson singled to right field, tying the game at 1-1.
Jake Heid led off the fifth inning with a walk and was at third base after a single by Jake Hoffman. Sean Kelling, batting ninth, executed a perfect squeeze bunt, scoring Heid with the go-ahead run.
Alex didn’t let Starbuck enjoy their lead for long, striking back to tie the game in the top of the sixth inning, when Anderson delivered a two-out RBI triple.
The game headed into the bottom of the seventh tied at 2-2. The bottom of the Starbuck order was coming to bat so extra innings appeared likely. With one out Ryan Christianson drew a walk, then immediately stole second base. After another out Sean Kelling came to bat and did a great job drawing a walk after getting two strikes on him.
Christianson and Kelling then executed a double steal while lead-off hitter Connor Westberg was up. With the winning run on third base and two outs, Westberg drilled a 2-2 pitch into left field, scoring Christianson and setting off a wild celebration by Starbuck players and fans.
The exciting win put Starbuck into the VFW state tournament in New Ulm beginning on Thursday, Aug. 6.
Starbuck did everything they needed to do in order to beat a pitcher the caliber of Anderson. Shawn Stumpf pitched masterfully, scattering six hits over seven innings, allowing five singles and a triple.
The Starbuck defense played errorless ball and turned a double play while the offense made the most of threes singles. Each single led directly or indirectly to a run scored. Richards’ single drove in a run. Hoffman’s single got a runner to third base, where he later scored on a squeeze bunt. And Westberg’s single drove in the game-winning run.  
The Starbuck VFW team now advances to the state tournament in New Ulm. Their first game as District 5 champs will be against the District 1 winner, Owatonna, at 12:30 p.m. on Thursday.  July 27
Starbuck 3 Alex 16s 2
Alex 16    100 001 0 — 2 6 1
Starbuck  000 110 1 — 3 3 0
HITTING – Connor Westberg 1-4 rbi, Matthew Gruber 0-3 r, Colin Richards 1-3 rbi, Jake Heid 0-2 r, Ryan Christianson 0-2 r, Jake Hoffman 1-3, Sean Kelling 0-0 rbi
PITCHING (ip-h-r-er-bb-so)
Shawn Stumpf (W) 7-6-2-2-1-1
Contributed photos