Rugby’s Babe Ruth Baseball Team Bows Out Gracefully
Rugby’s Babe Ruth Baseball team, led by first year coach Kipp Johnson lost two games to Grafton to stifle their march to state. The first game was a heartbreaker with a 1-0 loss going 10 innings.
Dillon Marco, from Rugby, and Marcus Niemann, from Grafton, dueled for seven innings. Isaiah Johnson, a steward at the plate, broke up the no-hitter in the 7th inning with a leadoff single. He then, with some heads up base running, was able to reach second base on a pass ball. Marco then followed with a hard hit single to center. The ball was hit so sharply Coach Johnson held up Isaiah rather than risk a play at the plate. Momentum seemed to be on Rugby’s side. Then the unthinkable happened. With Isaiah standing on third with no outs, the ump put the fate in his hand rather than letting it be decided on the field and called Isaiah out, claiming at some point when he was rounding third base he inadvertently brushed Coach Johnson. Though Isaiah was just the first out the momentum was definitely lost. When Coach Johnson was asked about the game he said, “This was our one good chance to score in the game. Their pitchers shut us down with very good pitching and good defense. It was one of the best games I’ve been a part of for quality of play.”
Marco gave up only three hits in the seven innings pitched. The Grafton pitcher gave up just two. Shayden Luna pitched well the final three innings, giving up only one run via a walk in the bottom of the 10th. Coach Johnson’s thoughts on the last two inning of the game, “We were able to get out of a bases loaded, no outs situation in the 9th that was fun to watch, with Kyler Odden making his best catch of the season, robbing a Grafton player of a game-winning hit, but it just wasn’t meant to be.”
After the controversial 1-0 loss to Grafton, they entered the second game with hopes of extending the season with a win. Unfortunately, Rugby couldn’t bounce back and the second game wasn’t as close. Grafton built a 4-1 lead after three. Landon Foster didn’t have his strongest outing, but showed his tenacity by gutting out a complete game. Luna found his season-long majesty at the plate in this game, going 2-3. Isaiah Johnson also showed his season long hitting prowess with a 2-3 game. But it wasn’t to be, and the hits were too scattered to produce enough runs to keep up with Grafton, with Rugby finally succumbing 9-4 with a season ending loss.
Coach Johnson reflected on the season and shared, “The losses were heartbreaking but I couldn’t be more proud of these kids, they gave it their all.” He continued, “For the season we averaged almost 10 runs per game, with six batters hitting over .300 with three batting over .400, but good pitching shut us down in this series.” Coach Johnson being the class act he is, offered no excuses, even in the face of a controversial call by an overzealous umpire and he wished Grafton luck as they continue on to the State tournament in Hettinger.
Hats off to Rugby’s Babe Ruth baseball team who will always be remembered as the Regional Champs of the Turtle Mountain Division. Great job Shayden Luna, Landen Foster, Mayson MacCabe, Isaiah Johnson, Seth Jaeger, Dillon Marco, Kyler Odden, Kyler Gingerich, Kelby Gingerich, Tim Mueller and Nate Haman you are a bunch of great kids who formed a great team. And, their coaches who sacrificed all season so these kids can participate in America’s favorite past time, the selfless volunteer work they do should never be overlooked. Again, great job Kipp Johnson, who is the head coach, and Anders Johnson, his assistant coach.
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