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Eric Peterson, Published July 25 2010

West Fargo tops Fargo Post 2 for Eastern Division title

Catcher David Johnson called the pitches and starting pitcher Matt Strahm executed Saturday at Jack Williams Stadium.

That combination sparked the West Fargo Patriots to a 9-4 victory against Fargo Post 2 for the North Dakota Eastern Division American Legion baseball tournament championship.

“David Johnson called a heck of a game,” said Strahm, who allowed five hits in a complete-game victory. “I was just going with what he called. The pitches were hitting spots and everything was clicking.”

West Fargo (30-16) cruised to the title by winning all three of its games in the double elimination tournament, including two victories against Post 2.

The Patriots outscored their opponents 39-8 in those three games.

“Beating Fargo twice, that is a big feather in your hat this time of year,” said West Fargo coach Bill Ibach, whose team is 5-0 this season against Post 2. “That doesn’t happen too often.”

The Patriots built a 6-0 lead through three innings in the championship game. Post 2 was held scoreless through eight innings before scoring all its runs in the ninth.

“We can’t afford to do what we do early in the game to allow them to score runs,” Post 2 coach Jeff Fiechtner said. “We face a tough pitcher like (Strahm), we’re going to almost have to play a perfect game to beat him.”

Strahm was nearly unhittable until the late innings.

The left-hander, who faced the minimum through five innings, had his no-hitter broken up in the sixth inning. Andy Schweigert cracked a two-out single to right field off Strahm for Post 2’s first hit of the game.

Strahm had a one-hit shutout heading into the ninth inning before Post 2 rallied for four runs on four hits in its final at-bat.

“A little stamina showing there … but I had my defense make plays for me,” said Strahm, who threw 123 pitches. “I didn’t try to do too much with the ball.”

Strahm finished with 11 strikeouts. He struck out five consecutive batters at one point, fanning the final two batters in the fourth inning and striking out the side in the fifth inning.

“That was kind of a signature statement right there,” Fiechtner said. “We’re in the middle of the game and he’s just sticking it right to us.”

West Fargo took control with a four-run third inning. Bryce Jorgenson had an RBI triple and Tucker Bucholz added an RBI double to fuel that rally.

West Fargo is tentatively scheduled to play Williston at 11 a.m. Wednesday in the first round of the Class A state tournament in Bismarck. Post 2 is scheduled to play Mandan at 5 p.m. in the first round.

F 000 000 004– 4 5 3

WF 114 000 300– 9 11 2

Wawers, Schroeder (8) and Fiechtner. Strahm and Johnson. W–Strahm (7-0). L–Wawers.

Grand Forks 8, Devils Lake 5

Brady Johnson went 3-for-4 with two RBIs and also scored a run to lead the Royals to victory in the challenge game.

Johnson had a single, double and triple for Grand Forks, which earned the No. 4 seed for the state tournament.

“We took it as a second chance and you don’t often get a second chance,” Grand Forks coach Gabe Dahl said. “We took advantage of it today.”

It appeared the Royals (18-17) season had ended Thursday after they lost to Jamestown 7-6 in a loser-out game. However, since No. 2-seeded Grand Forks hadn’t played No. 5-seeded Devils Lake in this tournament the Royals had the chance to challenge Devils Lake for the No. 4 seed.

“There were a lot of long faces,” Dahl said after Thursday’s loss to Jamestown. “I just told the kids ‘Baseball is a quirky game and it has quirky rules.’ … We were able to take advantage of a quirky rule.”

Matt Swanson and Jared Swenseth each had three hits for Devils Lake. Josh Janzen added a two-run home run in the ninth inning.

DL 011 000 012– 5 8 3

GF 203 001 11x– 8 10 1

Swanson and Swenseth. Steen, Huderle (6), Johnson (9) and Purpur. W–Steen. L–Swanson. HR–DL, Janzen.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Eric Peterson at (701) 241-5513.

Peterson’s blogs can be found at www.areavoices.com