New-look L/E/M Cardinals unable to go back-to-back in state baseball title bids
FARGO – One year can make all the difference.
The (#4) Langdon Area/Edmore/Munich Cardinals and the (#1) LaMoure-Litchville/Marion Loboes didn’t need a reminder. They already had it ingrained in their memory. And it didn’t take long to recognize the context between the two programs.
To keep it short, the two teams had a history. More specifically, a history that dated 363 calendar days. After all, the Cardinals and Loboes met during the 2021 NDHSAA Class B Baseball State Championship on June 5, 2021. During the contest, Langdon Area/Edmore/Munich attacked early and inevitably prevailed, 9-1, to net the program their first baseball championship in school history.
However, a calendar year can change everything. Even the reigning champions are not immune to any such rules of the universe.
Despite winning the 2021 title, the 2022 rendition of the Cardinals had a different look to them this time around. Grant and Simon Romfo were no longer lineup mainstays. Then, there was Cooper Zimmer, who pitched a seven-inning complete game against the Loboes in the championship. With the trio no longer in the high school ranks, it was up to a newer Cardinal team to bear the brunt of the workload.
The Loboes, meanwhile, returned the majority of their lineup and, more significantly, their starting pitcher in senior Landon Piehl, who pitched 3.2 innings of three-run ball during the 2021 state tournament contest against the Cardinals.
One year can make all the difference, and this proved to be the case for the Loboes. During their 2022 state semifinal game, the Loboes held the Cardinals to two hits, which amounted to a 3-0 shutout in their favor at Newman Outdoor Field on June 3.
“They [LaMoure-Litchville/Marion] are pretty similar from last year,” Langdon Area/Edmore/Munich head coach Joshua Krivarchka said after the game. “So, we knew they were really talented. Their pitcher [Landon Piehl], he was lights out today. He mixed his curveball well and kept us off-balance. We just couldn’t string anything together, and he doesn’t walk many people, either. So, hats off to them. They played well, and they made plays behind them.”
After tallying a pair of strikeouts during his 2021 game against Langdon Area/Edmore/Munich, Piehl worked his pitching arsenal to all quadrants and tallied nine strikeouts Friday evening.
Krivarchka almost immediately recognized that Piehl would be a tough nut to crack.
“I think the biggest thing is he [Piehl] was able to throw his curveball and off-speed for strikes,” Krivarchka said. “That kind of put us behind the 8-ball a little bit. Anytime a high school pitcher can do that and mix in his fastball at times, he was tough. He was tough on our hitters and credit to them.”
After losing their top three pitchers from the previous year in terms of innings pitched (Grant with 43.1, Simon with 39.0 and Zimmer with 35.2), it was up to Jack Romfo to carry the postseason load. After twirling 20.1 innings during the 2021 campaign (fourth on the team), Jack carried over momentum from the previous year and kept his team in the hunt during the 2022 postseason bout.
“I thought he [Jack] competed his butt off today,” Krivarchka said. “We gave up three runs, but I would say, for the most part, they were unearned, and we even had chances where we could’ve made plays early, and we kind of gave up a run or two there which, we knew in that type of game, every run is going to count. But he competed hard. He got us out of some jams and [am] just proud of how hard he competed for us.”
While the Cardinals stayed within striking distance, the Loboes found that spark that turned into the deciding factor that netted them the win against the team that eliminated them during the previous campaign.
Sometimes, a year can make all the difference.
LEM: 0 0 0 0 0 0 0: 0 2 3
LLM: 0 2 0 0 0 1 x: 3 4 1
- Langdon Area/Edmore/Munich:
- Jack Romfo: CG, 4 H, 3 R, 0 ER, 3 K, 1 BB, 89 P
- Gage Goodman: 1-3, 1 BB
- Landon Piehl: CGSO, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 9 K, 1 BB, 93 P
- Corban Potts: 1-2, 1 BB
- Dylan Carlson: 0-2, 1 R, 1 RBI, 1 K
John Crane is a sports/general assignment reporter for the Devils Lake Journal. Feel free to contact John via work phone (701-922-1372), cell phone (701-230-4339), email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Twitter (@johncranesports) with any story ideas.