One day following losing in nine innings, the Devils Lake Storm comes up short again in nine at the American Legion Class A Northeast Divisional Tournament.
Despite writing a sequel to its opening round contest from the American Legion Class A Northeast Divisional Tournament Thursday —Devils Lake couldn’t rewrite the ending.
A bases loaded hit by Jackson Haagenson scored Ryan Muizelaar in the bottom of the ninth inning that gave the Blues the 10-9 victory over Devils Lake, sending themselves into a second elimination game Thursday night while sending the Storm home for the season. It was the second consecutive nine inning game for the Storm who also lost to Fargo in walk-off fashion Wednesday.
“God, just the way the kids battled,” said Storm coach Tanner Carpenter.
The Storm, trailing by a run in the top of the seventh, scored two to take a 9-8 lead and forcing Grand Forks to take their last at-bat.
“We go out, needing one, we ending up putting up two. We were really at a point where it didn’t matter who was up we just had to figure out who can pitch and everyone of the guys came in and did a one hell of a job,” Carpenter said.
With Grand Forks having runners on first and second and one out, Nate Grafsgaard came in for relief of Connor Larson and despite allowing the tying run to score, Grafsgaard pitched himself out of the inning with the Blues leaving the bases loaded. Thus, giving Devils Lake extra innings of new life.
In the eighth, the Storm had an opportunity to take the lead again after Grafsgaard led the inning off with a double. Aaron Johnson’s sacrifice bunt moved Grafsgaard over to third but he was left stranded 90 feet away from home.
In the bottom of the eighth, Grand Forks had runners on second and third but Ryan Haahr, who came in to pitch for Grafsgaard, kept the Blues off the board and extending the game into the ninth. However, with the heart of the Blues lineup coming to bat, it proved too much for the Storm to withstand.
A leadoff single by Muizelaar and a sacrifice bunt by Zach Carolin advanced Muizelaar to third after a passed ball moved him to second. Carpenter decided to intentionally walk Grand Fork’s two and three hitters to load the bases only to see the fourth hitter in the lineup, Haagenson, end the contest.
When asked about his thoughts on why intentionally load the bases, Carpenter was looking at recent history.
“They had a guy on third with one out and they were in their two and three hole so we had a situation to bypass (Joey) Grabanski.”
Grabanski’s line drive solo home run over left center was part of a two-run third inning that gave Grand Forks a 4-1 lead.
“I thought at that time it was our only play,” Carpenter said.
Despite the outcome, Carpenter believes that the gains that were made throughout the season were tremendous.
“The first two games we played in Grafton, they 10-run us twice and really from there it could only go up. I thought the strides we made throughout the year not only putting the ball in play but defensively we played well all season,” Carpenter said.
Trailing 4-1, the Storm took their first lead of the game in the fifth. After Jacob Greene successfully reached on a sacrifice bunt that loaded the bases, Hunter Swanson’s RBI scored Grafsgaard. Haahr would knock in Johnson and Parker Vilandre’s two-run double scored Greene and Swanson. Haagenson balked in Haahr and Luke Knowski’s sacrifice fly scored Vilandre, Devils Lake’s sixth run of the inning, that put them up 7-4.
Chris Harris can be reached at email@example.com and on Twitter: @ChrisHarris_DLJ