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Glenn Pursley , Published August 01 2012

West Fargo picks up win at Legion Division I tournament

MANDAN, N.D. – On Wednesday, the difference between No. 2 seed and the No. 7 seed was evident.

Pitcher Camran Bonnema faced a rough start on the mound, but battled backed to strike out seven batters and give up only two runs as the West Fargo Patriots defeated Mandan 12-2 in the first round of the North Dakota Division I American Legion state baseball tournament.

Bonnema walked two of the first three batters he faced and hit Aaron Janz with a pitch to load the bases with only one out. But Logan McDowell hit a ground ball to West Fargo’s Andy Young at shortstop, who converted it into a double play to get out of the jam. And it was smooth sailing after that.

West Fargo scored quickly, with Young hitting a two-run home run followed by an RBI single from Brock Evenson to put the Patriots up 3-0 in the bottom half of the first inning. Young finished with one double, a home run and two RBIs.

In the fifth inning, West Fargo tacked on four more runs when Chance Bitzer hit a fly ball that fell between the Mandan right fielder and second baseman. On the play, Bitzer got caught in a rundown to give Tucker Bucholz enough time to cross the plate safely and take a 7-1 lead.

Bitzer also hit a walk-off grand slam in the bottom of the eighth inning to take the win.

“It’s my first of the year. I had a slow start,” Bitzer said. “But it feels good to get one in state. I was trying to be patient and wait for up in the zone I could drive.”

Logan McDowell and Jared Walters led Mandan on offense with one hit and one RBI. McDowell’s one-run single put Mandan on the scoreboard in the third inning and Walters drove in Parker Harm in the eighth inning. Starting pitcher Tanner Schaf added three hits.

“Mandan is a great team,” Patriots head coach Bill Ibach said. “They lined out twice into double plays and a pop fell in that probably shouldn’t have that gave us a big inning. You take those things out of the equation, it’s a pretty even game. They are always a tournament team.”

West Fargo advances to the next round and will play Grand Forks at 11 a.m. Friday.

M 001 000 01x– 2 9 2

WF 300 041 04x–12 12 1

Schaf, Scott (7) and Kautzman. Bonnema, Barker (8) and Bucholz. W–Bonnema (1-0) L–Schaf (0-1)

Readers can reach Forum reporter Glenn Pursley at (701) 241-5549