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Chris Murphy, Published August 03 2013

Post 2, West Fargo advance to ND Class A state title game

WEST FARGO – Fargo Post 2’s Aaron Green said he had faith. He had faith his teammate Seth Tollefson would connect on a bunt, so he would not be left hanging after sprinting down the third-base line as soon as the ball left Bismarck pitcher Tanner Wolf’s right hand. His faith paid off, as Tollefson connected and he scampered home with the winning run in the top of the 10th inning for a 10-9 win to send Post 2 to the North Dakota Class A American Legion state baseball title game today at 1 p.m.

“It was a lot of built-up adrenaline, (I was) ready to get home and score,” Green said, still shaking after the game as if he was ready to sprint home again. “We wanted to get to the championship. Now, we’re there, so we’re going to bring it.”

With nine outs to go, Post 2 was up 8-3 thanks to solo and three-run homers from Green. Bismarck then scored six runs in the bottom of the seventh, capping the scoring with a squeeze bunt of their own to take a 9-8 lead. After a one-out double from Green, Lincoln Voss laced a single to tie the game the very next inning for Post 2.

“I told them to relax,” Post 2 coach Lucas Rustad said. “We had six outs to work with, so I said let’s use them all and make sure we get this thing tied. On the squeeze play, I said, ‘No guts, no glory. We’re going for the victory.’”

Both teams escaped jams after the tie. Bismarck had runners on the corners with one out in the eighth when Post 2 pitcher Joe Hallock picked off Kole Bauer at third after Hunter Walsh fouled off a squeeze bunt attempt. Hallock then got Walsh to ground out with Jake Brucker on second. Thanks to two Bismarck errors, Post 2 had runners on second and third with one out in the top of the ninth, but Wolf was able to get Ryan Smith and Hallock to pop out.

Green reached on an error to start the 10th. A sacrifice bunt from Voss and a single from Gunnar Linstaedt put runners on the corners with one out before Tollefson laid down the squeeze bunt winner.

Hallock set down Bismarck in order to close out the game.

“Aaron got a great jump and he threw me a curve to put it down,” Tollefson said. “Last year we had a great team, but I think this year we have more energy and we’re more focused going into the championship game.”

West Fargo 10, Bismarck 1

It will be a rematch of last year’s state title game, as West Fargo outlasted Dickinson 11-8 early Saturday and rolled Bismarck to stave off elimination and return to the title game to defend their crown.

Chase Gooding allowed the first three batters he faced to reach and a wild pitch gave Bismarck a 1-0 lead. After the wild pitch, Gooding retired 26 of the next 32 he saw, going all nine innings, striking out seven and walking one. West Fargo got plenty of offense, as Ben Huber led the way with three RBI and Andy Young added two RBI as well.

The Post 2 win means, regardless of Sunday’s result, both Post 2 and West Fargo will head to the Central Plains Regional tournament next week. That doesn’t mean the state title means nothing.

“It doesn’t matter that we’re going. We still need the state championship,” Gooding said. “We want it. (Fargo Post 2) is really cocky. They think they it’s just going to be handed to them, but we’re going to take it.”

The first game will be at 1 p.m. today. If West Fargo wins, the deciding game will be 30 minutes following Game 1.

B 100 000 000 – 1 9 3

WF 202 104 01x – 10 12 0

Bauer, Schuchard (5) and Walsh. Gooding and Bruenjes. W–Gooding. L–Bauer.

F 111 401 010 1 – 10 12 4

B 101 001 600 0 – 9 11 3

Salentine, Rerick (7), Hallock (7) and Hallock and Penney (7). Dill, Kost (5), Wolf (8) and Irey and Walsh (5). W–Hallock. L–Wolf. HR–F, Green 2.

WF 411 030 002 – 11 13 2

D 000 610 001 – 8 14 3

Uetz, Paper (5), Bonnema (8) and Bruenjes. Huschka, Bast (7) and Erickson. W–Uetz. L–Huschka. Save–Bonnema. HR–WF, Young. D, Herauf.

Readers can reach Forum reporter

Chris Murphy at (701) 241-5548