Roughriders capture second Legion state titleWAHPETON - The ending seemed too perfect not to happen. They came, they saw, they conquered, and the recipe was simple: Give the ball to Stephen Laylock and let Ben Herauf do what he does best - crush home runs.
By: Chris Aarhus, The Dickinson Press
WAHPETON — The ending seemed too perfect not to happen.
They came, they saw, they conquered, and the recipe was simple: Give the ball to Stephen Laylock and let Ben Herauf do what he does best — crush home runs.
The Dickinson Roughriders captured their second consecutive Class A American Legion state championship thanks to a Herauf grand slam in the top of the ninth inning, beating Fargo Post 2 13-9 on Sunday at John Randall Field. It’s Dickinson’s second Legion title.
"Back to back, but it's not over for us," said Herauf, whose team will play the Minnesota state runner-up Apple Valley Thursday at the Central Plains Regional in Minnetonka, Minn.
For the second straight year, Herauf was named the tournament's most valuable player, besting his performance from a year ago. Last year, he had five home runs and 15 RBIs.
He finished 4-for-4 with two home runs and seven runs batted in against Fargo, and was 13-for-19 with five homers and 22 RBIs in the tournament. In the final three games, he finished 11-for-12 with four home runs and 19 RBIs.
"Guys were on base all tournament for me," Herauf said with a smile.
Herauf was the hero again after his two-run dinger were the winning runs against Minot on Saturday night. Eric Seiler hit a solo shot in the third inning to put Dickinson up 7-1. In the fifth, the error bug bit the Riders hard as Fargo tied the game with six runs that were helped out by three miscues from Dickinson, which had six in the game. Fargo had four errors.
Herauf had a solo blast to give Dickinson an 8-7 lead in the seventh and Steffan scored on an error an inning later. However, Post 2 tied the game in the bottom half when it scored two runs on a Dickinson error and a run-scoring single from Ethan Schnabel.
Dickinson looked to be in a bad spot after Nos. 8-9 hitters Caleb Burgard and Kyle Breen both got out to start the top of the ninth due to the effectiveness of Fargo starter Eric Jagim, who was tagged with the loss.
Then, Fargo’s wheels fell off.
Seiler drew a walk, and Jagim hit Laylock with a pitch, bringing up Cole Frenzel.
Jagim took Frenzel to a full count and the two battled foul pitch after foul pitch until finally Jagim's curveball landed outside the strike zone to load the bases for Herauf, who drilled a first-pitch fastball over the left-field wall.
"I was kind of looking for a fastball," Herauf said.
Dickinson coach Andy Emard raved about Frenzel's at-bat that set up Herauf.
"I told Cole that was the most professional at-bat I've ever seen," Emard said. "To fight off that many pitches at that stage of the game ..."
Frenzel, who finished the tourney 13-for-19, said Jagim spent most of the day trying to confuse him.
"He was dabbling a little bit with all of his pitches," Frenzel said. "He was kind of pitching me backwards."
Roughriders starting pitcher Tyler Steffan gave up just five hits in six innings of work. He gave up a total of seven runs, with just four being earned in the no-decision.
"He threw fantastic," Emard said. "We weren't cleaning it up, defensively."
Emard had a pitching plan for the state tournament, and the Roughriders didn't have to veer far from the path.
"We kind of had it mapped out," Emard said. "Tyler knew before the state tournament started that he could be pitching (the state championship)."
The errors didn't seem to bother Steffan, who said he had full confidence in the guys behind him.
"Errors are a part of the game," Steffan said. "I was very excited (to pitch this game). If there was someone other than Laylock to pitch this game, I wanted it to be me."
Steffan handed the game over to staff ace Laylock with an 8-7 lead. Fargo got to Laylock, who bent but didn't break. He gave up one earned run in the final three innings and Fargo even loaded the bases on him in the ninth with two outs before forcing a groundout to second base to end the game. He earned the victory, fittingly.
As a freshman in high school, he pitched the Dickinson Midgets to a state championship against Minot High and another one this past May, when he baffled Fargo South with a no-hitter. He also pitched the Roughriders to a win over Minot in last year's Legion state championship game.
With three state-title game victories under his pitching belt coming in, it not much of a surprise that Laylock found his way into this one. He threw 140 pitches in a 10-7 win over Fargo on Thursday when Frenzel had the winning home run.
"My arm was sore, but it's the state championship," Laylock said. "Can't hold anything back."
In the three previous games, Laylock had been mobbed on the mound after the final out. It's an experience to which he's grown accustomed.
"I remembered getting the final out and getting dogpiled," Laylock said. "It would be weird for me running from second base."
The Roughriders scored 79 runs in five games at state. They hit 11 home runs.
"If you put Dickinson in a position where they can score runs, they will take advantage," Fargo coach Jeff Fiechtner said. "You really do need about three pitchers against them."
Dickinson 13, Fargo 9
Dickinson 331 001 014 - 13 11 6
Fargo 100 060 020 - 9 9 4
Tyler Steffan, Stephen Laylock (7) and Michael Steve. Eric Jagim, Jake Nystrom (9) and Mike Jones. W-Laylock. L-Jagim. HR-D, Herauf 2 (14, 15), Seiler.
Highlights: D, Herauf 4-for-4, 7 RBIs, 3 runs; Tommy Peters 2-for-4, 3 RBIs; Steve 1-for-4, walk, RBI; Eric Seiler 1-for-4, 4 runs, SB, HBP, walk, RBI. F, Zach Argall 2-for-4, SAC, RBI; Kyle Kingsley 2-for-4, walk; David Ernst 2-for-5, 2 runs; Christian Barnum 1-for-5, 2 RBI.