June 8, 2011

Wolves take 8th at State Class B Baseball tourney

By Neal A. Shipman
Farmer Editor

Justin Johnsrud, head coach of the Watford City High School’s baseball team, pretty well summed up his and his team’s feelings as the Wolves dropped three straight games to finish in eighth place at the State Class B Baseball Tournament in Mandan.
“It was a disappointing end to a very good season,” stated Johnsrud. “Our play in the State Tournament did not represent how our kids played this season, or what they have accomplished the past three years.”
Watford City opened the tournament with a heartbreaking 1-0 loss to Velva-Drake-Anamoose, the defending state champions.
Watford City then fell 4-1 to Bottineau on Friday, and 10-7 to Hettinger on Saturday.
In the post tournament awards ceremonies, Trey Jacobson was named to the All Tournament team and was named the 2011 Senior Athlete of the Year. 
State Tournament - First Game
Velva-Drake-Anamoose 1, Watford City 0

“This game was everything I thought it would be,” stated Johnsrud. “A battle between two very good ball clubs with very good athletes.”
And what a game it was as Trey Jacobson took to the mound for the Wolves against Velva’s Jon Mack in what would become a pitcher’s battle. In seven and one-third innings of pitching, Jacobson fanned 11 batters while Mack struck out four.
After seven scoreless innings, Velva would score the winning run as an Aggie runner got on base on an error. He moved to second on a single by Podoll and an error on the outfielder allowed the winning run to score.
The Wolves had a chance to tie, or possibly win the game in the bottom of the eighth inning, but just could not get a hit when they needed one.
Trey Jacobson drew a walk to get on base, and then Nick Liebel attempted to execute a hit and run. But he popped up on an outside pitch which Velva converted into a double play.
The pitch was outside and he popped out to the short stop who threw to first for the double play. 
“We just couldn’t get a hit when we needed one,” stated Johnsrud. “We had our chances but things just didn’t go our way.”
                                                                                    R    H    E
Velva                             0    0    0    0    0    0    0    1    1    3    2
Watford City                0    0    0    0    0    0    0    0    0    1    4
State Tournament - Second Game
Bottineau 4, Watford City 1

Watford City struggled against Bottineau’s pitching as the nine Wolves’ batters struck out in consolation action of the State Class B Baseball Tournament on Friday.
And not making contact at the plate was something Watford City was not used to.
“Most of the year we did a pretty good job of making the opponents’ defense make plays by putting the ball in play,” stated Johnsrud. “But against Bottineau, we had nine strikeouts which is not typical for us.”
And Bottineau took advantage of Watford City’s poor hitting as the Braves got on the scoreboard first on a Watford City error.
But still the Wolves had their chances to score, but just couldn’t come up with the hits when they needed them.
“Again our bats let us down,” stated Johnsrud. “We had runners in scoring position in the first, second, fifth and sixth innings, but we were unable to get a hit at the right time to score any runs.”
Doug Rolfson took the loss on the mound for Watford City as he struck out nine batters while giving up six hits and one base on balls in  seven innings of work.
Offensively, Trey Jacobson was one for three with a double, while Chris Larsen was two for two.
                                                                                 R    H    E
Watford City                    0    0    0    0    0    0    1    1    4    2
Bottineau                          1    0    1    0    0    2    x    4    6    1
State Tournament - Second Game
Hettinger 10, Watford City 7

“After scoring only one run on five hits in the previous two games, I didn’t think things could get any worse,” stated Johnsrud. “But baseball is a game of streaks that can be good or bad.”
And against Hettinger in the battle for seventh place, the streaks went the Black Devils’ way.
“We were able to get some hits right away and score two runs in the first inning,” stated Johnsrud. “Then our pitching and defense, which had been solid all year, faltered.”
After having rock-solid pitching all season, the Wolves gave up 13 walks and one hit batter against Hettinger as Johnsrud used three pitchers trying to find the right one.
“Our pitchers have been excellent all year, and for whatever reason, they struggled to find the strike zone on Saturday. So, we put 14 runners on base for Hettinger,” stated Johnsrud.
And Hettinger made the Wolves pay dearly for their pitching errors as the Black Devils would score six of the walked batters.
“When you struggle on the mound, you’re not going to win very many games,” stated Johnsrud.
But trailing 10-3 in the top of the seventh inning, the Wolves would rally, scoring four runs to take a 10-7 loss.
“I was proud of how our players battled,” stated Johnsrud. “It seemed as if we couldn’t catch a break. We had chances to win every game, but things just wouldn’t go our way.”
But even with a disappointing showing, Johnsrud is proud of the way his team played all season.
“We had a great regular season which led to our first state baseball appearance in our program’s three- year existence,” stated Johnsrud. “Most of our seven seniors are two- or three-year starters and have had excellent baseball careers. I’d like to thank them for representing our school and community very well.”
                                                                                  R    H    E
Watford City                    2    0    0    1    0    1    3    7    8    3
Hettinger                         0    1    3    6    0    0    x    10    6    7