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Aaron Saunders, Published August 05 2012

Grafton tops Wahpeton for title

LAMOURE, N.D. – Wahpeton learned a valuable lesson on Sunday afternoon in a 4-1 defeat to Grafton at the North Dakota Division II American Legion state baseball tournament: errors can be detrimental.

“It stings. We were going into this thing thinking we were going to win it,” said Wahpeton’s Cole Gilles, who had his team’s only hit. “I mean, they are a good baseball team but it’s on us, we had our chances to do everything, so it stings quite a bit right now.”

With the bases loaded and the score knotted at one, Grafton’s Austen Markel scored the go-ahead run in the top of the seventh inning after catcher Alex Lunneborg tossed the ball over third baseman Gilles’ head on a suicide squeeze bunt attempt.

“We had a big throwing error in the top of the seventh, and after that we kind of let the wheels fall off,” said Wahpeton head coach Chris Kappes. “Any time you play a good team, you can’t afford to give them extra outs.”

Grafton took advantage of the miscues.

“Momentum is huge,” said Gilles. “I mean, one little thing and it can go your way or the other team’s way. The whole time it’s just huge.”

Wahpeton got a solid performance by pitcher Tyler Gripentrog, who allowed only six hits over 6 Xc innings.

“It sucks to lose a state championship game, but we lost to a great team,” said Gripentrog. “We just made a couple mistakes in the field and went down looking a couple times at the plate, and that was the end of the game.”

The loss to Grafton was only Wahpeton’s fourth of the season. Wahpeton’s losses have all come to teams who have made it to the finals of state tournaments – Minnesota Division II’s Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton and North Dakota Division I runner-up Fargo Post 2.

I am extremely proud of our guys. They are a great group,” said Kappes. “They work hard, play hard and are extremely coachable.”

Despite the loss, Wahpeton will compete in the Central Plains regional baseball tournament as the host team next week.

“Of course we want to win the state tournament, but we have to put this one behind us and focus on the next group of games,” said Kappes.

G 000 100 3–4 6 0

W 100 000 0–1 1 2

Villarreal and Dusek. Gripentrog, Bontjes (7) and Lunneborg. W–Villarreal. L–Gripentrog.

Readers can reach Forum reporter

Aaron Saunders at (701) 241-5549