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Tom Mix, Published May 24 2012

Wokin's walk-off HR sends Kindred-Richland to Class B baseball tourney

KINDRED, N.D. – Kindred-Richland’s Matthew Workin picked a great time to hit the first home run of his life.

The sophomore first baseman hit a two-run, walk-off home run in the bottom of the seventh inning to help the Vikings to a 7-5 win over Finley-Sharon-Hope-Page in the North Dakota Class B, Region 1 baseball championship game on Thursday at Kindred High School.

With the title game knotted 5-5 and with two outs already recorded in the seventh, it appeared the teams were headed for extra innings, but Workin jumped on the first pitch delivered by Spartans reliever John Storebo.

The home run was to dead center field and sent the Kindred-Richland players charging to home plate from the dugout to greet Workin.

“It feels awesome,” Workin said moments after the home run. “It is the best feeling in the world.

“I was just looking for the first pitch to hit. I’m not very good at hitting curveballs, so I didn’t want to get behind in the count. I just was looking for a fastball to hit.”

Workin’s home run helped defending state champions Kindred-Richland clinch a spot in the state tournament set for next Thursday at Jack Brown Stadium in Jamestown, N.D. The Vikings (18-8) will play Lewis & Clark-Berthold at 6:30 p.m. in the quarterfinals.

“We all know (Workin) has power, but he hasn’t hit a home run this year,” said Kindred-Richland senior Nick Milbrandt, who was the Vikings starting pitcher. “Then out of nowhere he just cracked that one. We all knew it was gone right off the bat, and we all were jumping with enthusiasm.”

“It is absolutely amazing,” Kindred-Richland head coach Scott Milbrandt said. “I feel so great for this team. They worked so hard. Matt Workin came up big today with that walk-off home run. I’m proud of the kids.”

Prior to Thursday, the two teams split the first two games of the best-of-3 series, which forced the winner-take-all third game.

FSHP (22-15) jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first inning when senior Austin Brown connected for a three-run home run off Nick Milbrandt to left field. Jake Ihry added a solo home run in the second that deflected off the scoreboard in center field.

But the Vikings rallied, scoring two runs each in the fourth and sixth innings before Workin’s heroics in the seventh.

“We came out and we knew Nick was going to be around the plate and we told the kids, ‘Don’t be afraid to swing the bat,’ ” said FSHP head coach Mark Frost, who was named Region 1 coach of the year following the game. “We came out and swung the bats pretty well early. I was hoping we could get a few insurance runs here and there, but we just couldn’t get that extra hit. They kept pecking away, got the game tied and got the big blast there at the end.”

Nick Milbrandt and Storebo were named co-Region 1 senior athletes of the year.

Prior to last season’s championship, Kindred-Richland hadn’t played in a baseball state tournament since 1952.

“We never give up,” Scott Milbrandt said. “They have been like that all year.”

FSHP 310 100 0– 5 7 6

K-R 001 202 2– 7 8 4

Foss, Storebo (6) and Neva. N. Milbrandt, Cose (7) and Nelson. W–Cose. L–Storebo.

Readers can reach Forum reporter

Tom Mix at (701) 241-5562