Rolette-R rally falls short
Bottineau had to wait one extra day and one extra game to earn its first Region 5 Tournament.
The wait, however, was worth it.
The fourth-seeded Braves defeated top-seed and tournament host Rolette-Rolla 1-0 on May 25 to claim the baseball title.
The Comets rallied to top Bottineau 7-6 in extra innings in the first championship game to force a second game.
However, Bottineau ace Mark Lacroix pitched a gem in the final. The sophomore held R-R to just two hits and fanned 11 batters.
Bottineau scored the only run in the bottom of the sixth inning on an error. Justin McCloud reached on a fielder’s choice, advanced to second on a groundout to third base and then scored on a fielding error.
The title game was originally scheduled for May 24, but windy conditions forced tournament officials to wait until May 25.
The Braves had a 2-4 mark against region opponents during the regular season, but went 3-1 in the double-elimination tournament.
Bottineau opened the tournament by knocking off the Comets 8-4 in the first round before defeating Rugby 7-3 in the semifinals.
The Braves will compete in their first Class B state tournament which begins Thursday, June 3 in Minot.
Following its loss to Bottineau, Rolette-Rolla needed to win two loser-out games to reach the championship. The Comets blanked both Munich-Starkweather-North Star, 3-0; and then Rugby, 6-0.
Bottineau 1, Rolette-Rolla 0
Rolette-Rolla had its chances. Unfortunately, it just couldn’t cash in on them.
The top-seeded Comets had to settle for runner-up status, falling to No. 4. Bottineau 1-0 in the Region 5 championship.
The game featured two of the best pitchers in the region going toe-to-toe and they didn’t disappoint. Bottineau sophomore Mark Lacroix and Rolette senior Dillon Dionne combined for 20 strikeouts and gave up just one run.
Unfortunately, it was Dionne that surrendered the only run, unearned, however, in the sixth inning.
R-R’s best chance to score came two innings earlier with runners on second and third with no outs, but Lacroix retired the next three batters. On the last out, he made a sparkling defensive play, knocking down a line drive headed right back toward him and them calmly picking it up and tossing it over to first base.
Rolette-Rolla coach Jesse Vote believed his team had the pitching depth to win the tournament and it nearly came to fruition. After dropping the tournament opener to Bottineau, the Comets rattled off three straight wins and took the Braves to the limit in the title.
Nic Pfeifer had both of the Comets hits in the game.
R-R 7, Bottineau 6
Nic Pfeifer’s sacrifice fly scored the eventual game-winning run in a 7-6 Rolette-Rolla victory over Bottineau, and forcing a second Region 5 championship game in Rolette on May 25.
Evan Counts reached on an infield single and later advanced to third on a Jaden Pfeifer single and then tagged and scored on N. Pfeier’s fly ball to left field.
The Comets rallied from deficits of 3-1 and 6-4 to tie the game and force extra innings.
N. Pfeier’s infield single in the top of the sixth inning knotted the score at 6. Senior Josh Casavant relieved pitcher Blake Nelson in the sixth inning to record the win.
Mark Lacroix had three hits and drove in two runs to lead Bottineau at the plate. Logan Millican also doubled in three runs.
R-R 6, Rugby 0
Rugby couldn’t solve Rolette senior pitcher Josh Casavant.
The senior allowed just three hits and struck out seven batters in seven innings to propel Rolette-Rolla into the Region 5 championship game.
The top-seeded Comets defeated No. 2 Rugby 6-0 in a loser-out game on May 24 in Rolette.
R-R scored four runs in the second inning. Blake Nelson’s double scored Leonard Lange and two batters later Kyle Kakela singled home Nelson. The Comets would add two more runs in the frame off Rugby starting pitcher Zach Thompson.
The Panthers’ best chance to climb back into the contest came in the top of the fourth inning. An error, a single and walk loaded the bases with two outs. However, Casavant got a called third strike to end the threat.
The Comets would added a pair of runs in the sixth inning off Garrett Thompson, who replaced Z. Thompson in the third inning and pitched well to keep the score close.
Pake Hagen, Thomas Seaver and Zach Berube provided the Panthers three hits.
The loss was Rugby’s third to the Comets this season and ended its season at 12-6. This was the second straight region tournament where Rugby opened with a win before losing its next two games.
Bottineau 7, Rugby 3
The No. 4 seeded Braves took advantage of five Panther errors, scoring all of its runs in just two innings en route to a 7-3 come-from-behind win over the Panthers in the semifinal on a windy, wet May 24 in Rolette.
The game turned Bottineau’s way in the sixth inning. The Braves took advantage of four Rugby errors in the frame to score four runs and break a 3-3 tie.
Rugby coach Jim Cameron said the errors were the difference as well as some good defensive play by the Braves.
Panther pitcher Zach Thompson started the sixth inning, taking over for Garrett Thompson who allowed three runs on five hits in the first five innings of work.
However, the Braves roughed up the Rugby ace.
Rugby opened the scoring in the first inning by putting together a two-out rally to score two runs on three hits. Thomas Seaver’s single scored both runs. Seaver would get another two-out single in the third inning to increase the Panthers margin to 3-0. Andrew Hershey also had two hits for Rugby.
G. Thompson worked out of a jam in the first inning and then retired Bottineau quickly in the second and third innings before the Braves rallied in the fourth.
Bottineau’s Dana Hall’s two-out single coupled with a fielding error allowed three runs to score in the top of the fourth inning to tie the score.
Braves’ pitcher Taylor Milbrath settled down after giving up three early runs and picked up the win. He struck out six Panther batters and didn’t allow a run after the third inning.
The win advanced the Braves’ into the region championship for a second year in a row. The loss dropped Rugby into an elimination game against top-seeded Rolette-Rolla.
Rugby 6, M-S-NS 1
Rugby pitching ace Zach Thompson was dazzling in six innings of work, allowing just one run off two hits while fanning eight Munich-Starkweather-North Star batters in the Panthers’ convincing 6-1 victory in the first round on May 21.
The junior from Towner was given an early lead to work with as No. 2 Rugby erupted for five runs in the second inning. Nine batters came to the plate and Rugby pounded out four hits off Magicians’ ace Jesse Goeser. Z. Thompson, Garrett Thompson and Ian Keller all drove in runs during the inning.
The third-seeded Magicians would finally break through in the sixth inning when Travis Beck scored on a fielder’s choice. However, that’s all Z. Thompson would allow. The ace was on his game and recorded his second victory over M-S-NS this season. Coach Cameron said Zach was on his game.
The Panthers would add a run in their half of the sixth on G. Thompson’s single in the bottom of the sixth.
With a five-run lead, G.Thompson took over for Z. Thompson and pitched a quick seventh inning, getting a ground out and two strikeouts.
It marked the second year in a row Rugby opened the tournament with a victory.
Bottineau 8, R-R 4
It was not the start Rolette-Rolla wanted.
The top-seeded Comets were upset 8-4 by No. 4 Bottineau in the first round of the Region 5 Tournament on May 21. It was the second straight year R-R lost the opening game to the No. 4 seed.
Bottineau scored four runs in the top of the third inning off Comet starting pitcher Dillon Dionne.
R-R managed to get three runs back in its half of the inning, but the Braves would add a run in the fourth and three more in the sixth inning. Andrew Hill and Logan Millican each had two hits for Bottineau. Chris Julson and Evan Counts led the Comets off the plate which could muster just five hits.
R-R 3, M-S-NS 0
No. 3 Munich-Starkweather-North Star outhit No. 1 Rolette-Rolla by a 2-to-1 margin, but the Comets held the advantage where it counted the most – on the scoreboard.
R-R snapped a scoreless tie in the bottom of the sixth inning, scoring three runs en route to a 3-0 victory over the Magicians in a loser-out game at the Region 5 Tournament on May 21.
The Comets seniors came through at the plate with their season on the line. Nic Pfeifer tripled and Blake Nelsons doubled to drive in runs in that game-changing sixth inning.
Up to that point, Magician pitcher Travis Beck kept R-R at bay. He would fan 10 batters.
N. Pfeifer, though, would be equal to the task on the mound, keeping M-S-NS off the scoreboard.
The loss ended three-time defending region champion M-S-NS’ season at 6-11.
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