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Chris Murphy, Published May 24 2013

Packers fight off North to reach East Region championship

FARGO – West Fargo pitcher Kory Wolden referred to the final 30 minutes of the Packers’ 6-5 walk-off win over Fargo North in the East Region baseball tournament semifinals as a “rollercoaster.”

The Packers were able to get off the ride with a win, punch a ticket to state and to the region championship game. And Wolden was left with a greater understanding of the game of baseball.

Kind of.

“There’s times when you think you own this game, and there are times when you think you have no chance,” Wolden said. “Baseball is a funny game.”

West Fargo wasn’t laughing when North scored three unearned runs in the top of the seventh after Wolden’s two-out, two-run single in the bottom of the sixth had given the Packers a 3-2 lead.

After Wolden got the first North batter to ground out in the seventh, Dave Mehlhoff and Grant Fisher reached on errors. Wolden then walked Mike Boutain and hit Seth Tollefson and the game was tied. Matt Barclay was brought in to pitch, and he struck out Seth Amundson before Ian Schultz ripped a two-run single to put North up 5-3.

“Both teams felt like they had it won,” West Fargo coach Brett Peterson said. “It’s 21 outs. The game is not over until there’s 21 outs.”

West Fargo was down to its final three. Devin Wagenman singled and Camran Bonnema walked to start the seventh before Barclay’s sacrifice bunt was thrown into right field and two runs scored to tie it. A sacrifice bunt moved pinch runner Anthony Nichols to third with one out and Nichols scampered home on a wild pitch to the next batter to send the Packers back to the East Region championship game today to take on Fargo Shanley.

“We could have rolled over and died, but we battled,” Peterson said. “Our goal was to get back to state. You just want to give yourself a chance. We’ll enjoy this for the bus ride home, and then we want to take care of business (today).”

Shanley topped Wahpeton 7-3 in the first game at North on Friday to claim a spot in the championship game.

The Deacons didn’t waste any time, scoring three in the top of the first inning.

After a double from Lincoln Voss put runners on second and third with one out, Jake Salentine scored on an error and Voss scored on a wild pitch to make it

2-0. Brad Conant laced a two-out single to make it 3-0.

Peter Simon put Shanley up 4-0 with an RBI single in the fourth and Salentine cleared the bases on a bases-loaded triple in the next at-bat to make it 7-0.

“When the time came, we got it done, and that’s what a good team does,” Salentine said. “This year, we’re going to try to put something together. We just have to believe in ourselves and we’ll be fine.”

Fargo South 7, Wahpeton 3

FS 300 400 0–7 7 0

W 000 300 0–3 8 4

Salentine, Voss (7) and Eide. Albrecht, Meide (5) and Lunneborg. W-Salentine (3-1). L-Albrecht (0-2).

West Fargo 6, Fargo North 5

FN 000 020 3–5 6 2

WF 000 012 3–6 5 4

Wolden, Barclay (7) and Bruenjes. Anderson, Rerick (5), Roman (7) and Mehlhoff. W-Barclay (3-0). L-Roman.

Loser-out games

Grand Forks Red River 6, Fargo South 0

FS 000 000 0–0 3 3

GFRR 402 000 x–6 3 1

Raftevold, Bennington (2), Brunner (2), Kellen (3), Dubord (6) and Penny. Mahoney and Palmiscino. W–Mahoney. L–Raftevold.

Fargo Davies 9, Grand Forks Central 0

D 032 112 0–9 11 1

GFC 000 000 0–0 1 2

Quinlan, Booth (4) and Hartness. Martin, Walz (3), Johnson (6) and Binstock. W–Quinlan. L–Martin.

Readers can reach Forum reporter

Chris Murphy at (701) 241-5548