Fargo North uses a two-out, five run inning to propel itself over Devils Lake to reach the region championship game.
Devils Lake put itself in the position Thursday, May 23, to be a win away from the North Dakota High School Activities Association Class A state baseball tournament because, as Devils Lake head coach Brent Luehring said after his team’s win this past Tuesday, everyone doing their job and that especially meant the eight players surrounding the pitcher.
“We’ve put together three weeks of clean baseball and finally we booted a ball and it ended up killing us a little bit,” Luehring said.
A two-out error by third baseman Parker Vilandre set in motion a five run inning by Fargo North that resulted in an 8-2 win over the Firebirds from Legion Field at Roosevelt Park. The Spartans, who as the eighth seed, reaches the East Region championship game Saturday by beating both the tournament’s No. 1 and No. 4 seeds in consecutive games.
“If he fields that ball, it’s a zero-zero game for a long time and we actually may win that game but that’s baseball,” said Luehring.
With two outs in the top of the third and runners on second and third, Spartans Caden Headlee sent a pitch towards Vilandre for a force out opportunity at third that would have ended the inning. Instead, Vilandre bobbled the ball that allowed Mike Hallquist to slide in safely to third loading the bases. The next batter, Peyton Fisher, drew the walk from Firebird starting pitcher Jacob Greene that scored Hallquist. The next two batters, Joe Boutain and Dan Christianson, each got two-run singles that put the Spartans ahead 5-0.
The Firebirds (14-8) got on the board in the bottom of the sixth. Greene led off the inning reaching first on a bunt. Michael Widmer was hit by a pitch that put runners at first and second with zero outs. Luke Aanstad’s double scored both Greene and Widmer. Aanstad was able to reach third but was left stranded 90 feet away.
Aanstad also had a triple in the first inning.
The Spartans (12-10) added three runs in the top of the seventh to put the game away.
Fargo North got a complete game from pitcher Tyler Thrash who allowed just four Firebirds hits. He also struck out three.
The Firebirds are still one win away from reaching the state tournament in Minot, but in an elimination scenario Saturday against West Fargo, who defeated Grand Forks Red River 4-3 on Thursday. The opening pitch is scheduled for noon.
“We got another chance to get where we gotta go,” Luehring said.
Chris Harris can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter: @ChrisHarris_DLJ