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Glenn Pursley, Published August 02 2013

Villarreal sets tone early in Grafton's wins at Class B Legion tournament

BEULAH, N.D. – Jamie Villarreal likes being the one who comes up big. His teammates know it, and on Friday, he didn’t let them down.

Villarreal ripped a three-run triple in the first inning to set the pace for Grafton en route to a 9-2 win over Cando at the North Dakota Class B American Legion state baseball tournament at Goldmann Field.

Christian Lunde added two doubles and had three RBIs. Villarreal added a single in the third to finish 2-for-2 with three RBIs. He was intentionally walked in his last two at-bats.

“It was huge, especially at that point of the game,” Lunde said of Villarreal’s two-out triple. “It was good to get ahead and gave us a lot of momentum the rest of the game.”

In the first inning, Villarreal – who batted sixth in the lineup – took the third pitch he saw from Cando’s starting pitcher Dan Grande and sent it deep to center field. Cando center fielder Brooks Larson attempted to make a diving catch but came up short and the ball rolled to the fence, allowing Sam Heuchert and Garek Droog to score and give Grafton a three-run lead.

“It started from the get-go,” Villarreal said. “I mean, the guys know it and I know it. I like coming up in big situations.”

Grafton head coach Chad Kliniske added: “I got pretty excited to be honest with you. I almost fell over backwards. I mean if he makes that play, it’s an entirely different ball game.”

Lunde found the gap in left-center field the next inning for a double and sent Heuchert across the plate to score his second run of the game. Villarreal followed with his second hit – a hard-hit single – and Cody Kingsbury drove in Lunde to extend Grafton’s lead to five runs.

On the mound for Grafton was 16-year-old Hunter Baldwin. Baldwin gave up just two runs off six hits in complete-game effort.

“We’ve gone through this tournament with a lot of young pitchers and they are really good pitchers, too,” Villarreal said. “I would watch out for them in the future.”

Cando scored its runs in the fifth thanks to back-to-back singles from M.J. Klier and Drew Schill. Grande followed with a fielder’s choice to score Aaron Bergdahl, and Jayden Komrosky drove in Klier to cut the deficit to four runs.

“We’ve been on this road before,” Kliniske said. “We got a box load of second-place trophies from state tournaments and sometimes everything has to fall into place.

“Like I told the kids last night, getting tied up (against Beulah) and being able to win, you get that feeling that there’s some divine destiny or whatever you want to call it falling into place for us.”

G 302 013 0– 9 10 0

C 000 020 0– 2 0 0

Baldwin and Heuchert. Grande, Schill (6) and Schill. W–Baldwin. L–Grande.

Hatton 8, Beulah 1

Hatton’s Tanner Mundahl ripped a two-run double in the sixth and Jake Bilden followed with an RBI single to lift the Flyers to an 8-1 win over Beulah and eliminate the host team from the tournament.

H 002 114 0– 8 7 0

B 000 100 0– 1 4 2

Becker, Koch (4) and Mellmer. Thompson and Sherva. W–Thompson. L–Becker.

LaMoure 5, Hazen 1

During Friday’s first game, LaMoure’s Tyler Thielges batted 2-for-3 with three RBIs and starting pitcher Beau Diegel threw a complete game and gave up one run off four hits to beat Hazen 5-1 in an elimination game.

H 010 000 0– 1 4 1

L 310 010 0– 5 9 2

Leintz, Metzger (4) and Hintz. Diegel and T. Thielges. W–Diegel. L–Leintz.