All that stood in the way of Dickinson reaching the state championship game were the Fargo Shanley Deacons.
In a battle between two teams who both had over 25 wins on the year, it comes to no surprise the game was decided in the final innings. A four-run inning for Shanley in the sixth powered the Deacons past the Midgets 7-3, ending their hopes of a sixth state title.
In the bottom of the sixth Shanley had the bases loaded and no outs on the board. Dickinson made a pitching change, bringing in Aiden Haich to relieve Carson Weiler, who took his spot at second base.
Haich started off hot, striking out the next two batters to keep the game tied at 3-3. It was the next at-bat where things fell apart for the Midgets.
A softly-hit fly ball which hung in the air for what seemed like an eternity, landed in front of the second baseman Weiler. He did did his best to get the ball to first to end the inning.
Instead, Shanley’s Ben Ostile hustled down the line and beats the throw to first base, which scored the go-ahead run from third.
The Deacons weren’t satisfied with a one-run lead as Zach Sandy extended their lead 7-3 after he sent a ball to deep left field for a bases-clearing double.
Despite Shanley making solid contact against whoever was on the mound for Dickinson, head coach Pete Dobitz was pleased with how the pitchers battled it out.
“We executed our pitches,” Dobitz said. “They hit some balls but when it was time to knuckle down they did a good job of keeping them on the front foot. Even the ball that got the winning run in was a jammed shot. It just took a crazy hop.”
Midgets starting pitcher Drew Kovash allowed seven of the Deacon’s 10 hits over his three innings of work but the Dickinson defense remained strong and effective to keep the score tied.
“We stepped up defensively,” Dobitz said. “I thought pitching did too. They had plenty of baserunners on and we were able to keep them in check until the final inning.”
All three of Dickinson’s runs came in the third inning down 1-0. Troy Berg beat out a throw to first base to score a run. Isaac Daley followed with a line drive to right field to score another, and a sacrifice fly from Logan Bentz put the Midgets ahead 3-1.
Shanley immediately answered with two runs of their own in the bottom of the inning. Adam Leininger hit a two-run home run that just got over the right field wall to tie the game.
Another big scoring opportunity for Dickinson presented itself in the fourth inning. They had two runners on base with one out and Berg at the plate, but he grounded into a double play, spoiling any chance to take the lead.
It was a disappointing end to the Midget’s postseason hopes as they looked to claim another state championship. The consolation prize will be a third place matchup tomorrow, June 5, 1:00 p.m. CST against Bismarck Legacy, with the bigger picture in mind for Dobitz.
“The great thing about sports is they teach you life lessons,” Dobitz said. “We’ll talk about being a man and how to react when things don’t go your way.”