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Chris Aarhus / Forum Communications Co., Published May 31 2012

Suda's blast carries Graton past Hatton-Northwood at ND Class B state baseball

JAMESTOWN, N.D. – Zach Suda generated offense and controversy with one swing Thursday at the North Dakota Class B state baseball tournament.

The Grafton senior crushed a high fastball that was eventually ruled a two-run home run in the bottom of the fifth to lift the Spoilers to a 3-1 win over Hatton-Northwood in the opening round at Jack Brown Stadium.

Grafton (17-9) squares off against Washburn-Wilton-Center-Stanton in today’s semifinals.

After hitting an obstruction, the ball bounced back into center field. In question is what obstruction the ball hit. Hatton-Northwood coach Chad Omdahl said it hit toward the top of the fence, while the officials ruled it a home run after a short conference because they saw it strike a light pole, ricochet down onto the fence and bounce into center.

“Just by the angle, there’s no way it came off the pole,” Omdahl said.

Still, Omdahl acknowledged what would have happened had he gotten his way. Suda would have been rewarded with an RBI triple, and Joe Demers’ single would have brought him in anyway.

“It didn’t make a difference,” Omdahl said. “If we could have had better quality at-bats with runners in (scoring) position, that would have made a difference.”

Suda was also instrumental in the fourth, scoring the game’s first run when he singled and was eventually brought home on a Thomas Houdek suicide squeeze. His next at-bat was the home run an inning later.

“I saw (the home run) go off the bat and I knew it was in the gap,” said Suda, who led Grafton with two hits. “I was trying to wheel, and when I got to third base, they said I had a home run.”

HN got a run in the top half of the fifth as Kyle Pederson scored on a Brock Sherva single, but the two-run shot in the bottom half was integral in a game in which offense was hard to come by thanks to strong starting pitching.

HN 000 010 0– 1 4 1

G 000 120 x– 3 4 4

Olson and Sherva. Villarreal and Martinson. W–Villarreal (6-3). L–Olson (4-1). HR–G, Suda.

Washburn-Wilton-Center-Stanton 4, Bottineau 3

The seventh inning dealt Washburn-Wilton-Center-Stanton a win and Bottineau more heartbreak.

Trailing 1-0 after six, the Cardinals scored four runs in the seventh, and Bottineau lost in the opening round of the Class B state tournament for the third year in a row.

“This one really hurts,” Bottineau coach Nate Simpson said. “We had the game in hand and we didn’t execute.”

WWCS struggled the first six innings against Bottineau senior pitcher Mark LaCroix, who had thrown just 66 pitches and faced the minimum 18 batters. LaCroix gave up two earned on five hits in the complete-game effort. He struck out 11 and didn’t walk a batter.

LaCroix even scored the game’s only run until the seventh, reaching on an error in the fourth inning.

“This loss is not on Mark,” Simpson said. “He carried us through that game.”

But WWCS put a rally together and forced LaCroix to throw 36 pitches in a seventh inning that saw the Cardinals get four of their five total hits.

“We knew we had to get it done,” Washburn senior pitcher Kirk Sailer said. “(Bottineau) was playing some really good baseball, and it took some dropped balls. We knew we had to get the bats going.”

WWCS 000 000 4– 4 5 4

B 000 100 2– 3 4 2

Sailer and Henke. LaCroix and Hill. W–Sailer (6-0). L–LaCroix (7-1).

Aarhus writes for The Jamestown Sun