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Glenn Pursley, Published August 05 2012

West Fargo trots to Legion state title over Post 2

MANDAN, N.D. – West Fargo sprinted through the finish line to end Fargo’s marathon weekend at the North Dakota Division I American Legion baseball tournament and claim the state title.

“It feels great,” Patriots head coach Bill Ibach said after the traditional water cooler bath. “I’m so happy for these kids they’ve worked hard and they deserve it. It’s fun for me too, but I’m happy for them.”

Patriots cleanup hitter Tucker Bucholz slugged two doubles deep into right-center field for five RBIs to pace West Fargo to an 11-8 victory over Fargo in the championship game on Sunday at Dave Ressler Field.

Bucholz’s second double of the day was the only hit for West Fargo in the fifth inning. His extra-base hit drove in Kory Wolden and Andy Young to put the Patriots up 11-6.

“Fargo is a good team,” Bucholz said. “Five RBIs, I mean, it doesn’t happen a lot. I just went up to the plate and had the confidence and the momentum of the game behind me.”

Bucholz’s first double came in the fourth inning and cleared the bases to tie the game 6-6. Starting pitcher Landon Uetz, Wolden and Young scored on the play.

Young launched a three-run home run to cut into a four-run deficit in the bottom of the third inning to get within 4-3.

Young was a force throughout the tournament, batting .600 with nine hits, three doubles and two home runs.

“They’re just that good of players,” Post 2 coach Luke Rustad said. “They don’t miss many pitches and they don’t get flustered if they get down a strike. They are just waiting patiently for their pitch and when they get it, they take care of it. If you set the table for (West Fargo) you’re dialing up your own death sentence.”

Fargo first took the lead when Aaron Green led off with a stand-up double before scoring on Gunnar Lindstaedt’s RBI single. Shortstop Nick Salentine and Matt Schalow followed with singles that scored Ryan Smith and Jon Nygaard to go up 4-0.

The loss to Bismarck in the quarterfinals resulted in Fargo playing three games on Saturday in order to make it to the championship, one less than West Fargo played throughout the tournament.

“That’s the big advantage of the whole tournament,” Bucholz said. “You play one game a day and you get to sit in the hotel, sleep and get rested up. Battling back, playing three nine-inning games and trying to come play two more games to win that championship is tough.”

Schalow carried Fargo through the losers’ bracket, batting a combined 8-for-12 with two home runs and one double. He led the team with 12 hits and batted .522.

Schalow hit a two-run home run to breeze past Williston 8-2 on Saturday, driving in five of his total 12 runs. The three-run bomb against Minot – Schalow’s second of the day – paved the way to another 8-2 victory.

Fargo scored eight runs in eighth inning to beat Bismarck 16-11 and make it to the championship game.

Against West Fargo, Green homered in the ninth inning before reliever Tanner Dahl struck out two of the last three batters of the game, running his tournament total to 17.

“It’s awesome. We were high school state champions and (for) some of us, it’s our last year. It’s unbelievable,” Bucholz said.

West Fargo has won seven straight games at Ressler Field. They shut out three teams at the North Dakota Class A state high school tournament.

The Patriots earned a berth in the Central Plains Legion tournament next week in Dickinson.

F 040 200 011–8 9 4

WF 003 620 00x–11 13 1

Giffey, Voss (4) and Teschendorf. Uetz, Seckler (4) and Bucholz. W–Uetz. L–Giffey.

Readers can reach Forum reporter

Glenn Pursley at (701) 241-5549