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Glenn Pursley, Published August 09 2012

Gripentrog lifts Wahpeton to regional win

WAHPETON, N.D. – Tyler Gripentrog gave an all-star performance on Thursday, hitting a pair of doubles to drive in four runs lifting Wahpeton to a 4-3 victory over Groton, S.D., in the opening round of the Central Plains Division II American Legion baseball regional tournament.

“I was trying to sit back and hit the gaps,” Gripentrog said. “It feels amazing. We wanted to win this one for the fans and make a statement coming into the first game and I think we did.”

In the second inning, Gripentrog ripped his first double deep into left-center field to clear the bases and take the 3-0 lead. His extra-base hit scored Cole Gilles, Ethan Meidie and starting catcher Alex Lunneborg.

Groton starting pitcher Jamie Jorgensen answered back in the third inning by scoring Collin Bertram and Matt Stephan with a single to left field to shrink Wahpeton’s lead 3-2. Bertram and Stephan each had a hit and scored a run.

Jorgensen was solid on the mound, giving up four hits – three to Gripentrog – and struck out eight batters for Groton. He gave up his fourth hit to Ryan Sheeley in the third inning before striking out the next two batters.

Gripentrog’s second RBI double came in the fourth and drove in first baseman Clay Bassingthwaite to set the score at 4-3.

In a complete-game performance, pitcher Jeremy Bontjes gave up five hits and struck out two of the last three batters he faced to bring his game total to 10.

“We know it’s going to be a battle every game,” Wahpeton head coach Chris Kappes said. “(Gripentrog) was seeing the ball really well and putting some good wood on it and came up big a couple times. (Bontjes) threw a heck of a game for us and I’m proud of my guys here. It’s good to get one under the belt.”

Wahpeton will face Plato, Minn., in today’s 4 p.m. semifinal game. Plato has won three of its last four games with walk-off hits.

Groton 002 010 0–3 4 2

Wahpeton 030 100 x–4 4 1

G-Jorgensen and Stephan. W-Bontjes and Lunneborg. W–Bontjes. L–Jorgenson.

Iola 11, Grafton 4

Corey Taylor hit a single and two doubles to drive in three runs to lift the Kansas state champions over Grafton.

With the loss, Grafton falls to the losers bracket and will play today at 8:30 a.m. against Las Vegas.

“We’ve got to get refocused,” Grafton coach Chad Kliniske said. “We can’t have lead-off walks every inning and put ourselves against the wall. When it’s your turn you’ve got to grab the ball, go to the mound and throw strikes. And we didn’t do that today.”

Grafton 210 001 0–4 5 2

Iola 213 401 x–11 10 2

G-Villarreal, Heuchert (4) and Dusek. I-Sigg, T. Latta (6) and Walden. W–T. Latta. L–Villarreal. HR-G, Lunde.

Readers can reach Forum reporter

Glenn Pursley at (701) 241-5549