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Dustin Monke / Forum Communications Co., Published August 09 2012

Walk-off single sinks West Fargo

DICKINSON, N.D. – Nick Omodt helped Edina win the Minnesota state championship on Monday.

But there was no moment sweeter in Omodt’s season than Thursday evening on Astoria Field at Southside Ballpark.

With the game tied in the bottom of the ninth and down to his last strike, he ripped a two-out single to center field that scored a sliding Mark Handberg to give Edina a 3-2 victory over the West Fargo Patriots in the first round of the Central Plains Regional American Legion baseball tournament.

“That’s probably the best feeling I’ve had all season,” said Omodt, who was mobbed by teammates at the pitcher’s mound after Handberg scored. “Winning the state tournament was good, but that was the biggest hit of my season so far.”

It was a biggest moment in a game that hung in the balance for six innings thanks to the pitching of Edina left-handed starter Alex Lampert and West Fargo right-handed starter Tanner Dahl, both of whom tossed complete games.

Handberg led off the inning with a single to center and Mitch Larson – who had three errors at third base – came up with a redeeming base hit to center that set up Omodt’s game-winning hit.

“We knew it was going to be a good game,” Edina coach Nick Kennedy said. “It came down to pitching and big hits. Fortunately, we’re on the side that we want to be on.”

Pitching set the pace after West Fargo (39-15), the North Dakota state champion, tied the game at 2 in the third inning.

While neither pitcher had a spectacular line – Lampert gave up nine hits and three walks with three strikeouts and Dahl allowed 11 hits and a walk with three strikeouts – both battled out of tough situations.

“Both pitchers pitched really well, got out of some jams,” West Fargo head coach Bill Ibach said. “They didn’t really touch Tanner through the middle innings.”

After falling behind 2-0 in the second inning, the Patriots pulled even on a three-batter sequence in which Bucholz battled for a walk to load the bases, Bitzer drew a bases-loaded walk to score Kory Wolden and Brock Evenson singled to center to plate Andy Young.

Edina (39-6) got on the board in the first inning when Matt Hopfner scored Omodt, who led off with a single to right, on a fielder’s choice.

Larson gave Edina a 2-0 lead in the second inning with a single to left that scored Handberg.

Neither team struggled to put the ball into play, but both had trouble getting base runners home. West Fargo left 12 on base and Edina stranded eight.

The scoreless inning that stuck out the most for West Fargo was the ninth.

Young belted a two-out triple off the left-center field wall with no one aboard and Bucholz was hit by a pitch.

With West Fargo threatening, Bitzer sent a hard-hit shot to left field, where Omodt ended the inning with a leaping catch.

“We’re very resilient,” said Kennedy, whose team plays Nebraska runner-up Papillion Pinnacle Bank at 5 p.m. today. “If we’re down, we come back. If it’s a close game, we find a way to win.”

West Fargo takes on South Dakota state champion Brookings at 10 a.m. today in an elimination game.

Ibach said even though the Patriots are one loss from going home, they have the ability to pick themselves up and keep fighting.

“Our guys are confident,” he said. “They know they’re a good team too. We played well too, just two or three things here or there and it’s a totally different game.”

West Fargo 002 000 0–2 9 1

Edina 110 000 1–3 11 3

WF-Dahl and Bucholz. E-Lampert and Denn. W–Lampert. L–Dahl.

Dustin Monke is the sports editor for the Dickinson (N.D.) Press