The Winona Chiefs amateur baseball team has qualified for the Minnesota Baseball Association State Tournament next weekend. The Chiefs earned the state tournament berth with a pair of wins on Saturday in the Region 5C tournament. The Chiefs won two exciting games starting off with a 2-1 win over Kasson. The Chiefs trailed 1-0 going into the eighth inning before they tied it up when Lance Jensen was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded. Brandon Beech gave the Chiefs the lead in the eighth with a sacrifice fly. Jesse Van Brunt pitched the final two innings to record the save and Brad Bjerke earned the win after striking out eleven over seven innings.
Winona earned the state tournament berth beating seventh ranked Mankato 5-1 in eleven innings. Mankato looked like they were going to win the game in the tenth inning when they had the bases loaded with nobody out but the Chiefs were able to get out of the jam. The Chiefs loaded the bases up in the top of the eleventh inning and then got a bases clearing double by Matt Ellinghuysen. Jesse Van Brunt pitched the first nine innings while Chiefs draftee Henry Rownd threw the final two innings and got the win.
Sunday the Chiefs played Stewartville-Racine in the region championship and needed to beat the Sharks twice to earn the championship. Stewartville-Racine jumped all over the Chiefs early in the first game and won 11-2. Jensen had the only two hits for Winona in the game. The Chiefs will enter the state tournament with a 22-9 record and they will play Saturday night at 8:00 in St. Cloud in their first game. This is the second time in three years that the Chiefs have qualified for the state tournament.