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Aaron Saunders, Published August 02 2012

Wahpeton makes a statement at Division II American Legion tournament

LAMOURE, N.D. – Halfway through the North Dakota American Legion Division II state baseball tournament, Wahpeton has shown it is the team to beat.

After Thursday’s relatively easy 9-0 win over Washburn, which followed Wednesday’s 1-0 win over two-time defending champion Casselton, Wahpeton has put Legion fans on notice that it is a force to be reckoned with.

“Last year we were 0-2,” Wahpeton third baseman Cole Gilles said of last year’s state tournament. “It was important to us to come out and get a big ‘W’ today and help us move on.”

Wahpeton pounded out 10 hits, a big improvement over its three-hit outing against Casselton.

“We’re playing good baseball on the biggest stage right now,” said Wahpeton coach Chris Kappes. “We were able to play not as tight today, we came to the park a little bit looser.”

Wahpeton wasted no time putting three runs on the board in the first inning thanks to a bases clearing double by Gilles.

“I was looking for a good pitch to put a good swing on, hitting the ball hard anything I can do to just to get a couple runs in,” said Gilles. “I think we have a good shot. We’ve got good pitching, got a good group of players here and that’s a pretty good recipe for some wins.”

Wahpeton also received a standout performance on the mound from Tyler Gripentrog, who pitched a complete-game two hitter.

“I just wanted to get ahead, throw strikes early in the count and then mix up my off-speed,” said Gripentrog who recorded seven strikeouts. “They didn’t really swing at the first pitch, I kept on mixing up my fastball, curve ball and change up.”

Gripentrog matched Wednesday’s performance of teammate Jeremy Bontjes, who also pitched a scoreless complete game against Casselton.

“He’s a workhorse, he wants the ball,” Kappes said. “He’s going to attack the zone and he can change speeds when he wants to and he’s going to keep hitters of balance.”

Washburn 000 000 0–0 2 1

Wahpeton 303 210 x–9 10 0

Washburn-Schreiner, Henke and Henke. Wahpeton-Gripentrog and Lunnebord. W–Gripentrog. L–Schreiner.

Velva 4, Casselton 3

Velva scored the winning run in the fourth inning to end the season for two-time defending state champion Casselton.

Nicholas Wilcox and Mitchell Scheer each had a hit and an RBI to lead Casselton.

Casselton 100 200 0–3 6 2

Velva 003 100 x–4 6 1

C-Radermacher and Roesler. V-Mack and Podoll. W–Mack L–Radermacher.

Lisbon 5, Garrison 4

Lisbon held off a late 3-run rally to win its consolation-round game.

Tyler Mittleider went 3-for-4 for Lisbon while Derek Lyons, Wyatt Aberle and Willy Roman each had two hits.

Lisbon 002 210 0–5 13 0

Garrison 001 000 3–4 6 1

L-Mairs, Lyons and Berg. G-Landenberger and Haugen. W–Mairs. L–Landenberger.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Aaron Saunders at (701) 241-5549