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Aaron Saunders, Published August 04 2012

Wahpeton advances to Division II championship game

LAMOURE, N.D. – The day didn’t begin well for Wahpeton team, but after two games, things were looking a little brighter.

Wahpeton advanced to the championship round of the North Dakota American Legion Division II state tournament.

“After dropping the first game we put ourselves between a rock and a hard place,” said Wahpeton head coach Chris Kappes. “And we knew we had to get (Game 2) to have a chance at playing (today).”

In its first game of the day, Wahpeton fell to Grafton in a back-and-forth 6-4 contest that was closer than the score suggests.

Wahpeton was done in by two costly errors in the top of the fifth inning.

“It was one of those games where you are playing a good baseball team,” Kappes said. “I mean Grafton’s got a heck of a team obviously.

“In the first inning we had runners on second and third with one out and our four and five hitter strikes out. We needed a run across the board in that inning.”

Despite losing the first game, Kappes’ squad showed their mental toughness and scored a big victory over a scrappy LaMoure team in an 11-7 extra-innings slugfest.

“It was huge, I mean if you look at our record all season, we’ve only lost two games, and for us to lose two in one day, that would be unheard of,” said pitcher/left fielder Ryan Sheeley who knocked in five runs on the day.

While Sheeley provided the run support, pitcher Jeremy Bontjes provided the finesse, as he painted the corners with an array of fastballs and off-speed pitches to earn his second win of the tournament.

“Jeremy is a heck of pitcher,” said Kappes. “He wants the ball. He gets out there he throws strikes, pounds the strike zone. He hits spots. He is everything you want in a pitcher and I feel real comfortable going to him.”

Bontjes, came on in relief for Alex Lunneborg, who was chased after he gave up a home run and loaded the bases with one out.

In the championship round, Wahpeton will face Grafton, who also punched their ticket after beating Wahpeton in Game 1.

“We are going to have to play our best baseball of the season, it’s a state tournament anything can happen,” Kappes said. “If we want to end up beating this team we got to all play as one and we got to play our best baseball.”

Grafton 010 320 0–6 9 0

Wahpeton 003 010 0–4 4 2

Heuchert, Tibert (3), Suda (5) and Duesk. Kath, Sheeley (4) and Lunneborg. W–Heuchert. L–Kath.

Wahpeton 103 300 04–11 14 0

LaMoure 005 200 00–7 7 2

Sheeley, Kath (3), Lunneborg (4), Bontjes (5) and Lunneborg. Meiklejohn, Diegel (5), Stemen (6) and Thielges. W–Bontjes. L–Lunneborg. HR–W, Gripentrog, Thielges.

Grafton 12,

Washburn 2 (5 innings)

Shortstop Joe Demers drove in four runs as Grafton topped Washburn 12-2 in five innings.

Washburn 000 20 –2 4 1

Grafton 603 12 –12 11 0

Kurle, Sailer (4) and Henke. Martinson and Dusek. W–Martinson. L–Kurle.

LaMoure 4, Velva 1

Starting pitcher Chris Heinrich allowed one run over seven innings to power LaMoure past Velva 4-1.

LaMoure 001 030 0–4 5 0

Velva 000 000 1–1 3 5

Heinrich and Thielges. Effertz, Kuntz (5) and Podoll. W–Heinrich. L–Effertz.

Readers can reach Forum reporter

Aaron Saunders at (701) 241-5549