Aaron Ver Steeg is safe at first during a recent game for the Stars, who went 1-1 to open up the region tourney.

The Starbuck Stars amateur baseball team opened up the Region 4C Tourney with a win and loss this past weekend in Spicer.  The Stars routed Willmar in the opening round, Saturday, 11-1, but fell into the consolation bracket with a 9-2 loss to Bird Island, Sunday.

The Stars, who are 17-7 overall, including a 10-4 record in the regular season and 7-3 mark so far in the postseason, are set to play again at 1:30 p.m., Saturday, in Spicer against Milroy or NLS.  

With a win, the Stars would play again at 4 p.m., Saturday with a chance to play as many as two or three other games during the weekend before the Region 4C champion is determined.

There are nine teams in the Region 4C Tourney and three will advance to the State Class C Amateur Baseball Tourney. 

Starbuck will need to win its first two games, Saturday, to earn itself a berth in the Class C State Amateur Baseball Tourney.

The Stars reached the Region 4C Tourney thanks to two wins the previous weekend over Paynesville (6-5) and Atwater (4-1).  

There are 218 teams in Class C and 48 will advance to the state tourney, which is set for Aug. 19-21, Aug. 26-28, and Sept. 2-5 at various locations.

Starbuck 11, Willmar 1

Matt Gruber pitched seven solid innings and three Stars had three hits each to lead Starbuck to an 11-1 win over Willmar in the opening round of the Region 4C Tourney, Saturday at Spicer.

Gruber gave up just five hits, one earned run in the fifth inning, and two walks while striking out five. 

Leading the way for the Starbuck offense, which put six runs on the board in the first inning, were Matt Gruber, Austin VerSteeg and Mike Andreas, who had three hits each and combined to go 9-for-12 with six RBI and five runs scored.

Gruber, who leads the Stars with a .415 batting average, was 3-for-4 and scored runs in the first, fourth and sixth innings; VerSteeg was 3-for-4 with a run scored, stolen base and three RBI; and Andreas was 3-for-4 with a run scored and three RBI on a single in the first, double in the fourth  and another single in the sixth.

Adding two hits each were Michael Gruber, Darion Alexander, Jackson Hendrickson and Andrew Toop, while Aaron VerSteeg had a two-run single in the sixth, which helped the Stars end the game early due to the 10-run rule.

Starbuck scored all the runs it would need in the first on six singles, an RBI-triple by Jackson Hendrickson, which scored Andreas, and two walks.

Willmar, which had two players with two hits each, gave up just three walks and committed one error, but the Rails had no answer for the explosive Starbuck offense.

Bird Island 9, Stars 2

The Bullfrogs belted out 14 hits, including two homeruns, and took advantage of two homeruns to beat the Stars in the second game of the region tourney, 9-2.

Shawn Dollerschell had a two-run homer in the fourth to put Bird Island up 6-0 and Josh Dettman added a two-run blast in the seventh to increase the Bullfrogs’ lead to 8-1.

Starbuck scored its only two runs on an RBI single by Michael Gruber in the fifth, scoring Andrew Toop, who had doubled, and a solo homerun by Mike Andreas in the ninth with one out.

Drew Olsonaski, the first of four Starbuck pitchers, took the loss, lasting just three innings and giving up four hits, three runs (two earned) and two walks with four strikeouts.

Michael Gruber had two of the Stars’ five hits, while Andreas, Toop and Mitchell Gruber had one hit each.  However, Starbuck batters also struck out 10 times.

Starbuck Stars 11, Willmar 1

Willmar 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 — 1 5 1

Starbuck 6 0 0 2 0 3 x — 11 18 0

HittinG:  Starbuck-Matt Gruber 3-for-4, 3 runs; Austin VerSteeg 3-for-4, 1 run, 3 RBI, sb; Mike Andreas 3-for-4, 1 run, 3 RBI, double; Michael Gruber 2-for-3, 1 run, 2 bb; Darion Alexander 2-for-5, 2 runs; Jackson Hendrickson 2-for-4, 1 run, RBI, triple; Andrew Toop 2-for-3, 1 run, RBI, sac; Aaron VerSteeg 1-for-4, 1 run, 2 RBI; Mitchell Gruber 0-for-3, bb . . . WILL-Ashton Gregory 2-for-3, RBI; Sam Etterman 2-for-2, double

Pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so):  Starbuck-Matt Gruber (W)  7-5-1-1-2-5 . . . WILL-Christian Lessman (L)  2/3-7-6-5-2-1; Patrick Courtney 5 1/3-11-5-5-1-3


Bird Island 9, Starbuck 2

Bird Island 2 0 1 3 0 0 2 1 0 — 9 14 2

Starbuck 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 1 — 2 5 1

HittinG:  Starbuck-Michael Gruber 2-for-4, RBI; Mike Andreas 1-for-3, 1 run, RBI, bb, solo HR; Andrew Toop 1-for-4, 1 run, double; Mitchell Gruber 1-for-4; Aaron VerSteeg bb; Jackson Hendrickson hbp . . . BIRD-Trent Athmann 3-for-4, 3 runs, sb, RBI, 2 bb; Logan Swann 3-for-5, bb; Jared Dettman 2-for-3, 2 runs, 3 RBI, 2 bb, HR, sb; Shawn Dollerschell 1-for-5, 1 run, 2 RBI, bb, HR

Pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so):  Starbuck-Drew Olsonaski (L)  3-4-3-2-2-4; Darion Alexander 3-3-3-3-5-2; Michael Gruber 1/3-3-2-2-0-0; Aaron VerSteeg 2 2/3-4-1-1-0-3 . . . BIRD-Casey Lewandoski (W)  7-4-1-1-1-10; Eric Gass 2-1-1-1-1-2