Finishing just short: Grand Forks Red River beats Dickinson in third-place game
MANDAN — Saying goodbye is never easy.
Grand Forks Red River ended the Midgets season with a 8-3 win during the third-place game of the North Dakota Class A state baseball tournament on Saturday at Veteran’s Memorial Ballpark in Mandan.
“I told them all the time that we’ve been together they become sons more than just baseball players,” Dickinson head coach Pete Dobitz said. “It’s pretty tough to say goodbye. It’s easier to lose a game today than lose the one yesterday. I think yesterday’s game took a toll on us a little bit. We came out flat. We didn’t have that enthusiasm and looseness that we usually play with. It’s kind of tough for a game when you are expecting to play for a championship.”
Despite winning the opening round game against Fargo North, the Midgets left 10 runners on base. The runners left on base continued to pile up over the next two games. Dickinson left 14 and nine runners on base during the semifinal and third-place game, respectively.
One player which didn’t have any trouble in all three games was Dickinson sophomore Michael McChesney, who finished 6 for 11 with two doubles, three RBI and scored two runs.
“We definitely hit the ball hard and we just couldn’t find gaps at the right time,” McChesney said about the team’s inability to get timely hits. “We would hit it right at them and they played defense.”
Dobitz and Grand Forks Red River head coach Mark Varriano admitted it’s tough to get up for the third-place game after losing a heartbreaker the next before. The Midgets and Roughriders each lost their respected semifinal game by one run.
“It’s kind of hard to get up for the third-place game,” Varriano said. “Once we settled in, we played pretty good.”
It took a couple innings for Red River to get into a groove. The Roughriders scored seven runs in two innings — which included a five-run fourth.
Red River picked up eight hits, three walks and forced Dickinson into three errors. Jordan Lunski led the charge for the Roughriders going 2 for 4 with three RBI. Tanner Mundahl and Erik Hanson each had a pair of base hits. Mundahl also scored two runs and hit a double.
“We always tell our kids to put the ball in play and good things will happen,” Varriano said. “Once we do that, it puts pressure on the defense because they have to make the play.”
The Midgets scored the opening run in the third inning when McChesney came around to score on a throwing error.
However, Red River was quick to respond with a pair of runs which came off a throwing error and a RBI single from Lunski. After the two-run inning, Hanson went to work as he picked up the win on the mound. He pitched six innings, allowed three runs on eight hits and struck out eight.
Dickinson attempt to make a comeback during the seventh inning, but it was little too late.
“We tried to fight until the end, but we gave them too much already and we couldn’t make up too much ground,” McChesney said.
Brett Schweitzer was charged with the loss. The senior went 3 2/3 innings, allowed seven runs (six earned) and struck out three. Alex Bast came in for relief and threw 1 1/3 innings. Mitchell Mehrer finished the game with a three straight strikeouts for a perfect sixth inning.
Mehrer entered the tournament with a 3-0 record, one save and a 1.235 earned run average over 17 innings.
“I just wanted to go out there and hit my spots,” Mehrer said. “From the first pitch on, I was in the zone. I was really focused.”
Dobitz knows a majority of the seniors play during the American Legion season. He believes the team has the ability to win the state championship in the summer.
“I told them that there’s a good chance that they can go after the big trophy this summer,” he said. “There’s a lot of talent and a lot amongst these kids.”
Dickinson 001 000 2 — 3 8 3
GFRR 002 510 x — 8 8 3
Brett Schweitzer, Alex Bast (4), Mitchell Mehrer (6) and Mark Erickson. Erik Hanson and Brandon Walters.
W–Hanson. L–Schweitzer. HR–None.
Highlights: D, Michael McChesney 2 for 3, run; Erickson 1 for 3, run; Dylan Skabo 1 for 4, run; Schweitzer 1 for 3, RBI; Tanner Hopfauf 1 for 4; Dylan Wallner 1 for 3. GFRR, Tanner Mundahl 2 for 3, 2B, 2 runs; Hanson 2 for 2, RBI, run; Walters 1 for 3; Jordan Lunski 2 for 4, 3 RBI; Daniel Raymond 1 for 3, RBI, run; Samuel Bye 2 runs.
Bismarck High: Kole Bauer (unanimous), Kale Ohlhauser (unanimous), Nathan Dinga, Quinn Irey, Ben Hildestad. Bismarck Century: Logan Krivoruchka. Dickinson: Cole Anderson, Dylan Skabo. Grand Forks Central: Zach Walz (unanimous), Brock Reller, Nick Lund. Grand Forks Red River: Brady Regimbal, Colin Hennessy, Brandon Walters. West Fargo: Noah Paper.
Senior Athlete of the Year: Ian Schultz, Fargo North Spartans.
Coach of the Year: Jeff Fiechtner, Fargo North Spartans.