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Charleston repeats as Regional champions

Press Photo by Royal McGregor Charleston, Mo., closer Doug Still throws his hands up after the Flying Squirrels beat Eden Prairie Black (Minn.) for the Midwest Plains Regional championship on Sunday at Astoria Field at Southside Municipal Ballpark.

After sitting out the entire Senior Babe Ruth Midwest Plains Regional tournament due to injury, Charleston, Mo., pitcher Doug Still finally got his moment on the mound.

The closer, who was drafted by the Atlanta Braves and will attend Jefferson College (Mo.) in the fall, struck out all three of his batters in the seventh inning to finish the game and help the Fighting Squirrels to a 4-1 victory over Eden Prairie (Minn.) Black for its second consecutive regional championship Sunday night.

“It’s been awhile since I’ve been on the mound because I’ve been hurt so this was my time finally,” Still said. “I did what a closer should do.”

Charleston’s pitching performance, all seven innings, was strong and tough to break through.

Jarrett Sandlin got the start for the Squirrels and started the game off with a 1-2-3 inning. His only hiccup came in the top of the second when Eden Prairie Black’s Aaron Kerber hit a solo home run to left field to make it a 2-1 game. He was 2 for 3.

“I was definitely nervous for most of the game, until the fourth inning. I settled down,” Sandlin said, who competed in his first year on the team. “I had butterflies for sure.”

Sandlin completed his outing by allowing one run on three hits and four strikeouts.

“Jarrett was phenomenal,” Charleston head coach Michael Minner said. “He’s thrown a lot in high school this was his first year in our program in the summer and he’s been great for us all year. He’s probably thrown 50-plus innings and he’s one of our top guys.”

Charleston got on the board early with four straight batters reaching base safely in the first inning. Luke Haines hit a RBI single to right field and was followed by Ryan Fortner’s sacrifice fly which allowed Colton Hampton to tag home. Hampton finished the game 2 for 3 with two runs while Fortner and Haines each had a hit and RBI.

The Fighting Squirrels offense was plentiful during the tournament. They beat Holyoke, Colo., by 10 runs and shut out Dickinson 9-0. Eden Prairie Black, however, was able to keep the game close and within reach.

But Charleston began to slowly pull away, scoring a run in the fifth and sixth innings for some breathing room. Matt Ulrich and Billy Young each hit RBI singles into the outfield in the fifth and sixth innings, respectively.

Eden Prairie Black pitcher Alex Beneke tossed a complete game, giving up three earned runs on nine hits and three strikeouts.

“We knew it was going to be a tough one, played our hearts out, needed a couple timely hits and we might have been able to pull it off,” Eden Prairie Black head coach Alex Rutledge said. “But hats off to Missouri. They played good.”

With regionals over, the Fighting Squirrels can take a few days off and focus on the Babe Ruth World Series which starts Aug. 7 in Ephrata, Wash.

Still was a part of last year’s team that made the World Series and knows exactly what to expect.

“Very good teams, there’s a lot of very good teams,” Still said. “We just got to do what we know what to do — just play baseball. We will compete.”

EPB 010 000 0 — 1 3 2

Missouri 200 011 x — 4 9 1

EPB, Alex Beneke and Aaron Kerber. Missouri, Jarrett Sandlin, Doug Still (7) and Cody Payne.

W–Sandlin. L–Beneke. HR–EPB, Kerber.

Highlights: EPB, Kerber, 2 for 3, HR, run, RBI; Billy Young 1 for 2. Missouri, Colton Hampton, 2 for 3, 2 runs, 2B; Matt Ulrich, 2 for 3, RBI; Jason Mattison run; Chandler Young, 1 for 1, RBI; Brad Potts 1 for 4, run; Luke Haines 1 for 4, RBI.

Meaghan MacDonald

Meaghan is the sports page designer and copy editor for the Forum of Fargo-Moorhead.  After graduating from James Madison University (Va.) in May 2013, she moved from New Jersey to North Dakota to start pursuing her career in sports journalism and was a sports reporter for the Dickinson Press and covered Dickinson State athletics. Meaghan has been working for the Forum since June 2015.