Coyotes survive comeback
JAMESTOWN -- The game of baseball is a great teacher of lessons, first and foremost to finish what you start. Taking a sizeable lead into the bottom of the seventh inning, Williston nearly learned that lesson the hard way but held on for a narrow...
JAMESTOWN -- The game of baseball is a great teacher of lessons, first and foremost to finish what you start.
Taking a sizeable lead into the bottom of the seventh inning, Williston nearly learned that lesson the hard way but held on for a narrow 10-9 victory over defending state champion Grand Forks Central on Thursday at Jack Brown Stadium.
Down 10-4 with a man on first and one out, the Knights came alive for five runs and almost sent the Coyotes to the loser's bracket for the fifth consecutive season.
"We learned we need to stay on our toes until the game is over and never let up," said Williston senior pitcher Brian Qvale, who started on the mound and left after six innings with a 10-1 lead. "(At the end with the tying run on second) I figured, I hoped we would come through at the end. But we made it hard on ourselves. The game isn't over until it is over."
The tension wasn't just felt by the players.
"Yeah, there was concern with the tying run on second," Williston coach Brad Westphal said.
Qvale gave himself a cushion before he ever took the mound as his single to right in the top of the first plated a pair of runners and opened a three-run frame for the Coyotes.
Grand Forks Central tried to rally in the home half, but Joel Riopelle was caught at home (1-4-2) trying to advance from third on Alex Moe's steal of second for the inning's second out. Central would get caught at the plate twice in the game, seemingly meaningless plays when they happened but carrying a bit more weight by the game's conclusion.
Two errors, the second when the catcher, Moe, airmailed a ball into the outfield following a strikeout by Williston's Quinn Devlin, led to three Coyote runs in the fourth inning and seemed to all but seal Central's fate.
Shawn Egge made it 8-0 Williston after driving in two more runs in the top of the fifth with a double to left-center but was caught trying to stretch the hit to third.
"When we had the lead, it was a lot easier to put pressure on them," said Westphal. "But they did the same thing to us. We had one or two errors (in the seventh) and that is the name of the beast. And they had five or six hits."
Charged with seven errors in the game, a Central comeback just didn't appear to be in the cards.
"Errors can really bite you and they hurt a lot more with wood bats," said Westphal. "You could get big innings with the aluminum bats, but not with the wood."
Qvale, who had lost three straight entering the state tournament, struggled to find the strike zone consistently early in the bottom of the fifth as he issued a pair of walks, and Central's Brady Johnson collected the RBI on the Knight's second hit of the game.
"They kept coming," said Westphal. "That is a credit to them (Grand Forks Central). They didn't give up."
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