Pittsburg ends Roughriders' regional runMINNETONKA, Minn. — The run ended, but not without a fight.
MINNETONKA, Minn. — The run ended, but not without a fight.
Trailing 7-4 going into the top of the ninth inning on Sunday against Pittsburg (Kan.), the Dickinson Roughriders plated two runs but left the tying runner on third as Pittsburg held on for a 7-6 victory at the Central Plains Regional at Veterans Field.
Pittsburg opened Sunday with a win over Festus (Mo.) but lost to Festus twice Monday, 10-5 and 7-0, in the regional championship games. Festus advances to the American Legion World Series, which starts Friday at Newman Outdoor Field in Fargo.
The Roughriders looked to be in bad shape after Pittsburg broke a 4-4 tie with three runs in the top of the seventh.
Dickinson reliever Stephen Laylock, who was tagged with his second loss of the tournament, allowed a solo home run to Jesse Watt, and Adam McCormick and Tanner Smith followed with a double and a triple, respectively. Smith was driven in on a ground out by Joe Saia.
“Laylock’s our No. 1 arm,” Dickinson coach Andy Emard said. “He’s given us a chance to win every game he’s pitched. You live and die by your (ace).”
The Roughriders were unable to respond until the top of the ninth when Laylock was hit by a pitch and Cole Frenzel and Ben Herauf both drew walks to load the bases. Tyler Steffan lined an RBI single down the third-base line, scoring Laylock and Michael Steve followed with a ground out to second base, which scored Frenzel. With two outs and the go-ahead runner at second base, Pittsburg reliever Jordan Elliott struck out Mason Schiff looking to end the game.
“We left it all out on the field,” Steffan said. “This was a tough one, but we can’t hang our heads. Finishing third, that’s huge for us.”
Elliott earned the save and the win went to middle reliever Stuart Jeck, who gave up two runs on three hits in three innings of work.
Though the rally fell short, the Roughriders already had one comeback to their credit. Pittsburg scored two runs in the bottom of the first inning and took a 3-0 lead in the second when Jeck scored an unearned run.
The Roughriders fought back in the fourth as Cole Frenzel hit his 27th and final home run of the season, a solo shot over the right-field wall. Six hits in the top of the fourth including a two-run single from Laylock helped Dickinson take a 4-3 lead.
“Those first few innings, we came out lackadaisical,” Steffan said. “We weren’t focused. Cole’s home run in the fourth inning, that really picked us up. We came out and started hitting the ball well.”
In the fifth, Smith plated Watt, who reached on a double, with a single that tied the game at four runs apiece.
Dickinson’s pitching staff struggled to stop the middle of Pittsburg’s order. Watt, McCormick and Smith combined to 9-for-13 in the game. The other six hitters finished a combined 2-for-23. Smith has four hits and three RBIs.
Steffan had a trio of hits and Frenzel, Herauf and Caleb Burgard each had two hits for the Roughriders, which ended their season at 40-11. This team was Dickinson’s third to make the Central Plains Regional. The Riders went as the host team in 1999, losing both games. They also went last year and won on the second day, eventually falling on Day 3. Going 2-2 at this year’s tournament means this is the most successful Legion team in Dickinson history.
“We showed them North Dakota can compete with any other team in the nation,” Laylock said.
“This team can play with anybody in the country,” Emard said.
The Roughriders entered the season with hope for a second straight state championship. They accomplished that with a 13-9 win over Fargo Post 2 on Aug. 2 in Wahpeton.
“I think we really stepped up to those expectations,” Steffan said. “We expected great things. We had a fantastic season.”
Now, Dickinson has to look to a future without its longtime veterans. Frenzel, Herauf, Steffan and Steve will all be too old to return next season, and Laylock has already moved to Pennsylvania as his father, Tom, was transferred through his job.
“Being a part of this ballclub and organization has been great,” Laylock said. “It’s meant a lot ... playing with these guys for three years.”
Steffan and Herauf played baseball at the University of Mary last spring, and Frenzel is headed to the University of Arizona this fall on a baseball scholarship.
“They won’t be easy to replace,” Emard said. “These guys that are moving out; this isn’t the last time you’re going to hear from them. They’ll do well in college.”
PIttsburg (Kan.) 7, Dickinson 6
Dickinson 000 130 002 — 6 11 2
Pittsburg 201 100 30x — 7 11 1
Michael Steve, Ben Herauf (5), Stephen Laylock (5) and Connor McNeilly, Steve (5). Aaron Snow, Stuart Jeck (5), Jordan Elliott (9) and Nick Whetzell. W–Jeck. L–Laylock. S–Elliott. HR–D, Frenzel (27). P, Jesse Watt.
Highlights: D, Tyler Steffan 3-for-4, RBI, HBP; Caleb Burgard 2-for-3, run; Frenzel 2-for-3, 2 runs, 2 walks, stolen base, RBI; Ben Herauf 2-for-4, RBI; Laylock 1-for-4, 2 RBI, 2 runs. P, Tanner Smith 4-for-4, run, 2B, 3B, 3 RBI; Jesse Watt 3-for-5, 2B, RBI, 3 runs; Adam McCormick 2-for-4, run, 2B.