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Greg DeVillers, Published June 05 2010

ND Class B state baseball: Enderlin-Maple Valley can't get it started in loss

MINOT, N.D. – Friday was like a new start for the Enderlin-Maple Valley baseball team.

That’s not a situation that has been good for the Falcons this spring.

Velva-Drake handed Enderlin-Maple Valley a 2-0 loss in the first game of the North Dakota Class B state baseball tournament. The game had started Thursday, but rain forced it to be suspended after 3½ innings with Velva-Drake holding a 1-0 lead.

“We’re a notoriously slow-starting team,” E-MV co-coach Brian Midthun said. “We’ve scored very few runs in the first three innings in games all year. And this was like a start-over for us. It didn’t help.”

Velva-Drake had taken a 1-0 lead Thursday when lefty-hitting Garrett Wible homered off the scoreboard in right-center field, just to the right of the 350-foot sign. The Aggies made it 2-0 in their opening at-bat Friday. Ty Bruner had a leadoff single, stole second and scored when Zach Podoll lined a single to center.

Enderlin-Maple Valley, meanwhile, was true to its offensive form.

The Falcons stranded six baserunners Thursday, leaving the bases loaded in the top of the fourth. They managed only one baserunner in the final three innings, on a Taran Langland single. Bruner, pitching in relief of winning pitcher Jon Mack, retired the final seven batters he faced, one on a diving catch by center fielder Chandler Mack to end the top of the sixth.

“We got some runners on (Thursday),” Midthun said. “We couldn’t get them in, and we’ve been pretty good hitting in those situations. We’ve scratched for runs all year, so it was a concern for us when we were down 1-0.”

Midthun said there wasn’t a lot of discussion Thursday night about getting the Falcons’ offense going.

“We left the kids alone,” he said. “We have a lot of seniors. They knew what they had to do; they’re good players. And we did put the bat on the ball. (Velva-Drake) just made the plays.”

Velva-Drake managed only six hits off Langland, who took the loss, and Karl Bartholomay, who threw three innings Friday. Bruner was 3-for-3 to lead the offense for Velva-Drake.

The win for Velva-Drake meant that the Aggies will better the eighth-place finish they’ve had at state each of the past two seasons.

“That was our goal, to get out of that seventh-place game,” said Gene Buen, who retired as Velva-Drake’s coach after the 1999 season but was asked to return to the position this spring.

“I can’t say that the (suspension of Thursday’s game) helped us or hurt us. We had to use another pitcher, but we might have had to do that in this game, anyway.”

EMV 000 000 0– 0 4 0

VD 010 100 x– 2 6 1

W–Mack. L–Langland. S–Bruner. HR–VD, Wible.

Greg DeVillers is a writer for the Grand Forks Herald, which is owned by Forum Communications Co.