Wolves advance to Region 7 title game
By Neal A. Shipman
With wins over Mohall-LansfordSherwood-Glenburn-Kenmare-Bowbells, (MLSGKB) and Des Lacs-Burlington in the Region 7 Baseball Tournament, the Watford City Wolves baseball team is just one win away from a trip to the State Class B Baseball Tournament.
Watford City received a first round bye in the tournament after an undefeated regular season and then took on MLSGKB, the No. 4 seed, on Saturday.
Watford City 13, MLSGKB 1
While MLSGKB got on the scoreboard with one run in the top of the first inning, Watford City cruised to a decisive, 13-1, win to advance to the semifinals of the Region 7 Baseball Tournament.
The Wolves answered with four runs of their own in the bottom of the first inning, and then cruised to the easy win.
“We had really good plate appearances and put the ball in play forcing MLSGKB’s defense to make plays,” stated Justin Johnsrud, Wolves’ head coach. “It was an error-free game, and the balls we hit found open spaces.”
The Wolves had 14 hits in the game, with David Kline going three for three at the plate. Andrew Sampsel and Brandon Allex were two for three in hitting.
A huge eight-run second inning by Watford City closed the door on MLSGKB.
Brandon Allex recorded the win on the mound for Watford City, as he struck out four batters, while giving up just four hits and one walk in three innings of work. Quayde Shores pitched the final two innings for the Wolves, striking out two batters.
“Our defense played error-free baseball behind Allex, which really limited their scoring opportunities,” stated Johnsrud. “It was a great start to the tournament.”
Game 1 R H E
MLSGKB 1 0 0 0 0 1 4 0
Watford City 4 8 1 0 x 13 14 0
Watford City 8, DLB 7
In a wild Region 7 semifinal game, Watford City picked up an 8-7 win over Des Lacs-Burlington on Saturday afternoon.
Watford City led DLB, 3-1, after the first inning of play, and had a comfortable, 4-1, lead after two innings of play.
And with both teams going scoreless in the third and fourth innings, before the Wolves would up their lead to 5-1 at the end of the fifth inning, it looked like Watford City would cruise to the championship game.
But DLB had other plans for the Wolves as they put together a five-run sixth inning that would test Watford City’s ability to bounce back.
“We had three errors in the top half of the sixth inning, and those errors, combined with timely hitting, allowed DLB to score five runs in that half inning to tie the game,” stated Johnsrud.
DLB would then score two runs to open the seventh inning to take a 7-5 lead.
But the Wolves answered back as Quayde Shores and Brandon Allex delivered a pair of singles, and then David Kline beat out an infield grounder to score Shores and advance Allex to second. With two outs, Andrew Sampsel delivered a single through the right side to score Allex and tie the game at 7-7.
Watford City’s pitching then kept DLB scoreless in the top of the eighth inning setting the stage for the Wolves’ come-from-behind win.
Mitchell Liebel got things going for the Wolves in the bottom of the eighth as he got an infield single. Keegan Thompson then reached first on an error that advanced Liebel to second. Dustin Kleppen then hit a hard grounder to the shortstop to advance Liebel to third, with Thompson being forced out at second.
Quayde Shores then drew a two-out walk that brought Brandon Allex to the plate. With the bases loaded, two outs, and a 1-2 count, Allex hit a hard ground ball toward short that hopped over the shortstop’s glove to score Liebel for the winning run.
“It was much like any other game until that sixth inning,” stated Johnsrud. “Baseball is a crazy game - one error or bounce of the ball can really swing the momentum in one direction or the other. After the first error in the sixth inning, everything snowballed.”
But Johnsrud has nothing but praise for the way the Wolves retained their composure and battled back for the win.
“DLB definitely had everything working in their favor,” stated Johnsrud. “I was really proud of how our kids composed themselves and battled in the bottom half of the seventh inning.”
Andrew Sampsel earned the win on the mound for the Wolves, giving up two earned runs on 11 hits.
R H E
DLB 0 0 0 0 0 5 2 0 7 11 -
Watford City 3 1 0 0 1 0 2 1 8 18 -