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Patriots blank DHS in semis

Press Photo by Meaghan MacDonald Dickinson High second baseman Lucas Jones, left, waits to apply the tag on Bismarck Century base runner Dalton Feeney on Friday afternoon during the West Region baseball tournament semifinals at Astoria Field at Southside Municipal Ballpark.

After splitting the regular season series, the matchup between the No.1 seed Dickinson High and No. 4 seed Bismarck Century baseball teams could have gone either way.

Thanks to a four-hit shutout by Century sophomore pitcher Alex Horner, the Patriots upset the Midgets 6-0 in the West Region Tournament on Friday at Astoria Field at Southside Municipal Ballpark. The Patriots clinched a spot in the state tournament for the first time in three years and will play Bismarck High in the region championship game at 5 p.m. today.

“Early in the game we just weren’t as focused as we usually are,” said Dickinson senior right fielder Dylan Wallner, who was 2 for 2 with a walk. “We weren’t hitting the ball, we weren’t being aggressive at the plate, we had a couple mental errors on the base paths and, in the field, we didn’t know where we were going.

“That pretty much summarized the rest of the game.”

Through the first two innings, the matchup was the definition of a pitcher’s duel. Dickinson junior pitcher Mark Erickson allowed one hit — a double by designated hitter Luke Leingang — and Century’s Alex Horner allowed one walk and Dickinson shortstop Dylan Skabo reached on an error.

But in the third inning, the Patriots were able to crack the Midgets’ defense and take the lead for good. The top of the order was able to reach base safely and load the bases with no outs.

On a 3-1 count, Erickson walked senior second baseman Tanner Wolf to score Century’s first run.

Erickson allowed two more runs — one on a hit by pitch and another on a walk — before Lucas Jones came in for one out of relief. Erickson finished with four runs, (three earned) on two hits in two innings of work.

“We didn’t play the loose baseball that we’ve been playing the last couple of weeks,” Dickinson head coach Pete Dobitz said. “We let the pressure get to us a little bit.”

The Midgets got a solid relief pitching effort from junior Alex Bast, who tried to contain Century as best as he could. In three innings, Bast allowed two runs on five hits with one strikeout and two walks.

For the Patriots, Horner held Dickinson hitless until the bottom of the fifth when Wallner hit a single. Wallner’s hit briefly gained the Midgets some momentum as the next two batters also reached base.

However, Horner regained his composure and finished his outing with no runs, four hits four strikeouts and four walks over six innings.

“Going into it, I was actually really nervous and my legs were shaking and stuff but my curveball was breaking today, and I guess it was just a good day for baseball,” Horner said.

For Dickinson, juniors Tanner Hopfauf and Andrew Heckaman picked up the Midgets’ other two hits and each went 1 for 3 at the plate.

Senior Logan Krivoruchka was 1 for 3 with a walk and two RBI while Wolf, Dalton Feeney and Leingang each contributed a RBI.

Horner said Friday’s win was in part to his team’s effort on all ends of the field.

“We did a really good job playing as a team. We had people run, people hit and that was good,” Horner said. “Our defense, we had Dalton Feeney at our shortstop made a couple good plays, not allowing them to center (and) really covered a lot of ground and did a good job.”

While Century prepares to play Bismarck High at 5 p.m. today, the Midgets’ postseason future remains unknown.

Dickinson takes on No. 6 seed Jamestown — which sent home No. 7 seed Williston on Friday in a loser-out game with a 8-1 victory — at 2:30 p.m. today with the winner punching its ticket to the state tournament. The Midgets won all three meetings with the Blue Jays in the regular season and feel confident in bouncing back from Friday’s loss.

“They’re a ball team that if you let them stay in the game, they’ll make you pay for that, score some runs, make you worry a little bit,” Wallner said. “Every time we played them we did pretty good, so I am pretty confident we just got to make sure (Friday) doesn’t happen again.”

Century 004 000 2 — 6 7 1

Dickinson 000 000 0 — 0 4 2

Century Alex Horner, Dalton Feeney (7) and Chandler Aarfor. Dickinson Mark Erickson, Lucas Jones (3), Alex Bast (4) and Andrew Heckaman.

W–Horner. L–Erickson. HR–none.

Highlights: Century, Logan Krivoruchka 1 for 3, walk, 2 RBI; Tanner Wolf 0 for 3, walk, RBI; Luke Leingang 1 for 4, RBI; Dalton Feeney RBI; Cyril Nagurski 2 for 4, walk. Dickinson, Dylan Wallner 2 for 2, walk; Tanner Hopfauf 1 for 3, Heckaman 1 for 3.

Demons beat Braves in extra innings

One extra inning was all it took.

No. 3 seed Bismarck High beat No. 2 Mandan 2-1 in eight innings in the second semifinal game to reach the finals.

In the top of the eighth, Kole Bauer doubled to right-center field and was followed by Quinn Irey, who reached first on a walk.

Mandan pitcher Parker Harm intentionally walked Tre Kautzman to face Benjamin Hildestad, who hit a pitch up the middle for the game-winning RBI.

Bismarck scored first in the first inning as Irey hit a RBI single to right field. After six straight shutout innings, Harm started Mandan’s rally off with a double down the right-field line.

With two outs left, Trevor Leingang hit to right field to drive in Harm from third base for the game-tying run.

Demons starting pitcher Nathan Dinga threw a 1-2-3 eighth inning to hold off the Braves and earn their spot in the championship game against Century.

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.