Munich-Starkweather-NS wins third straight region title
Munich-Starkweather-North Star entered the season as the favorite to claim its third consecutive Region 5 baseball title.
However, it wasn’t until the region tournament when the Magicians showed their dominance.
After struggling in the regular season, losing five games and two in region play, M-S-NS went a perfect 3-0 at the postseason tournament in Rolette to become the first region team to win three straight titles.
No. 2 M-S-NS topped Bottineau 7-3 in the championship on May 20. The Magicians used a four-run fourth inning to build a sizable lead en route to the win. Travis Beck provided the offense in the title game, getting two hits and 3 RBI and coming in to relieve pitcher Jesse Goeser to get the final out.
No. 3 Bottineau didn’t go down without a fight, managing to bring the tying run to the plate in the bottom of the seventh.
M-S-NS (9-6), will face Region 7 champ Minot Ryan in the first round of the Class B state tournament in Mandan this Thursday, May 28. Bottineau also fell to M-S-NS in the first round of the tournament and ended its season at 8-7.
Rugby 10, Rolette-R 4
Fourth-seeded Rugby’s bats were hot from the start, scoring eight first-inning runs, and the Panthers surprised top-seeded Rolette-Rolla-St. John 10-4 in a first round game on May 18.
The key hit in the top of the first was Rugby junior Mitch Grochow’s bases-clearing single that stretched the lead to 6-0. The Panthers would add a couple more runs in the fourth inning on a Derek Jaeger RBI double and Pake Hagen RBI single.
Sophomore pitcher Garrett Thompson kept the Comets in check for much of the game, striking out nine batters. R-R finally got on the board in the bottom of the third inning when Evan Counts doubled and later scored on a single by Nic Pfeifer. However, Thompson did a good job of keeping R-R from stringing hits together and building a big inning.
The Comets did add single runs in the sixth and seventh, but Rugby’s defense was sharp, not giving R-R-S extra outs.
Rolette-R-S pitcher Josh Casavant took the loss, and the Comets (8-3) dropped into a loser-out game. The victory sent Rugby (4-6) to a winner’s bracket game against No. 2 Munich-Starkweather-North Star. The win was Rugby’s second over R-R-S this season and was its first region tournament win in two years.
M-S-NS 6, Bottineau 5
No. 2 Munich-Starkweather-North Star catcher Blake Klein belted two home runs and tagged out Bottineau base runner Taylor Milbrath at the plate for the final out of the game in a 6-5 Magicians’ win in the first round on May 18.
Klein hit a two-run homer in the first and a solo homer in fourth inning, both going over the right center field wall.
M-S-BC led No. 3 Bottineau 6-2 entering the top of seventh, but Magicians’ starting pitcher Travis Beck struggled with his control, walking three in the inning and giving up a single. Bottineau would score two runs and eventually load the bases with two outs.
Jessie Gieser came on in relief of Beck and gave up a single to right field that scored one run, but M-S-NS outfielder Derek Haenke threw a one-hopper to Klein, who tagged out the runne, and advanced the Magicians (8-5) to the winner’s bracket. Bottineau (6-7) met tourney host Rolette-R-S in a loser-out game.
Beck was credited with the win and Gieser the save. Beck struck out eight and gave up just two hits but walked seven. Bottineau ace Andy Erickson was tagged with the loss. He fanned four batters but also walked four.
Bottineau 10, Rolette-R 9
Top-seeded Rolette-Rolla-St. John ran out of rallies. The Comets overcame a 7-1 deficit to No. 3 Bottineau to tie the game in the fifth inning and then scored twice in the bottom of the seventh inning with two outs to force extra innings.
However, a third rally attempt wasn’t to be. Bottineau scratched across a run in the top of the eighth, and Braves pitcher Cody Block faced just three batters in the bottom half of the inning to preserve a 10-9 win in a two-and-a-half-hour loser-out game on May 18.
The Braves jumped on the Comets early, scoring three runs off four hits in the top of the first. Mark LaCroix, Jake Thurston and Taylor Milbrath strung together hits against Comet starter Nic Pfeifer. Bottineau scored three more times in the third and led 7-1 before R-R-S’s offense woke up in the fifth inning, scoring six times.
Bottineau starting pitcher Mark LaCroix got into a jam, putting the first two batters on base. Coach Mike Getzloff called on ace Andy Erickson to end the rally, but the Comets loaded the bases and then got a two-run single from Leonard Lange, and later a two-run double by Aaron Thompson sandwiched around runs scored on a fielder’s choice and wild pitch.
The Braves would regain its lead in the seventh, scoring on Block’s bloop single to right field. R-R-S would respond in its half of the inning with a Nic Pfeifer two-out double, scoring two. The Comets had a chance to plate the winning run, but Braves’ pitcher Block ended the threat.
In the eighth inning, Bottineau’s Jake Thurston singled and LaCroix doubled. Comets’ pitcher Jaden Pfeifer, who came in to relieve Nic Pfiefer earlier, managed to get two outs, but a throwing error with the bases loaded on a Justin McCloud slow grounder to third base allowed the eventual game-winning run to score.
Block made sure the Comets wouldn’t tie the game a third time. He struck out the first batter, walked the second, and got a big defensive play from his catcher, who threw out pinch runner Jon Worral attempting to steal second. He then fanned the next batter to end the game.
Bottineau improved to 7-7 overall and met Rugby in a loser-out game on May 19. For the Comets, their impressive season came to a disappointing end. R-R-S finished 8-4 overall, dropping its last three games of the season.
M-S-NS 5, Rugby 4
Rugby took a brief lead on Zach Thompson’s homer in the sixth inning, but Munich-Starkweather-North Star scored single runs in the bottom of the sixth and seventh innings to pull out a 5-4 victory and advance to the Region 5 championship round for the third straight season.
Travis Beck’s single scored Jesse Geiser with the winning run on May 19. Geiser came in to relieve pitcher Alex Anderson in the top of the seventh with a runner on first and one out. He struck out both batters her faced.
The No. 2 Magicians took the lead in the first inning on Anderson’s single that scored two. No. 4 Rugby tied it in the fourth, taking advantage of two throwing errors. Garrett Thompson also singled to score a run.
M-S-BC would regain the lead on a Zach Thompson wild pitch in the bottom of the fifth inning, scoring Geiser from third.
However, Thompson would make up for it, hitting a towering two-run homer, the Towner junior’s first of the season.
Yet, M-S-BC would again tie the game, stringing together two hits, including a double by Derek Henke.
The wind caused all sorts of fits for both teams’ outfielders as routine fly balls became an adventure. Despite that fact, both teams also made some dazzling plays in the field. Rugby junior Aaron Teigen snagged a ball near the wall, taking away a sure extra base hit.
The loss was the Panthers’ third this season to the Magicians and dropped them into a loser-out game with third-seeded Bottineau.
Bottineau 7, Rugby 4
Bottineau scored five third-inning runs to break open the game, en route to a 7-4 win over Rugby on May 19, and a berth into the region championship against Munich-S-NS.
The Braves Myles Brooks, Mark LaCroix, Andy Erickson and Shawn Anderson strung together hits in the big inning, chasing Rugby starting pitcher Riley Olsen from the game.
Rugby would cut into the lead with a pair of runs in the of the fifth inning. Pinch-hitter Taylor Harmel doubled. Mitch Grochow then singled and Ian Keller later singled, driving. Rugby would add another run in the sixth. Zach Thompson and Harmel singled and Thompson scored on Garrett Thompson’s fielder’s choice.
Although the Panthers had 11 hits, they couldn’t string enough together for a big inning against Braves pitchers Tyler Block and Mark LaCroix.
The loss ended Rugby’s season at 4-8, but the squad arguably played its best basebal of the season in the two days at the tournament. Many of the players return next season. Bottineau, meanwhile, improved to 8-7, and rematch with Munich-S-NS.
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