Midgets baseball wins fifth state championship in program history
JAMESTOWN --Dickinson High, the team with the most success in North Dakota Class A baseball, showed West Fargo Sheyenne, the team with the least Class A experience, how to play in a state championship game.
JAMESTOWN -Dickinson High, the team with the most success in North Dakota Class A baseball, showed West Fargo Sheyenne, the team with the least Class A experience, how to play in a state championship game.
Ripping the ball for 13 hits, Dickinson claimed an 8-1 victory in the Class A state championship Saturday at Jack Brown Stadium. The Midgets, appearing in their 12th state tournament, claimed their fifth state title. No other Class A team has more than two titles.
“I just had a meeting with them and all-conference, all-state, no we didn't get as many as other teams,” Dickinson head coach Pete Dobitz said, “but we’re hoisting the team trophy and that’s more important. It took a team to get here. They really shined.”
Meanwhile, Sheyenne's hopes for a first state crown in its first year as a varsity program fell short.
"(The Midgets) are always well-coached and well-prepared, and it showed today," said Sheyenne coach Joel Swanson.
After failing to score in the first inning with the bases loaded, Dickinson batted through the lineup in the second inning, belting out two doubles and one triple to take a 6-0 lead.
“It was a little display of power, I guess,” Dobitz said. “I’m so proud of these guys. Most teams, you say the first four batters you have to focus on. We have production all the way down the line. It was a great effort for all nine guys involved.”
Lucas Jones had an RBI double that hit the left-field warning track, Benson Kramer had an RBI single down the third-base line, and then Michael McChesney ripped a two-run triple down the left-field line.
"That inning was huge ... one got a hit and it just kept going," said Jones, a junior who, as a relief pitcher with six saves, gave up only one run in bases-loaded jams in the third and fourth innings. "I had to stay calm. My defense backed me up. I just had to throw strikes."
Jones came on in relief after Cam Jorda pitched 2 1/3 innings and got a ground ball double play to end the Mustangs’ scoring threat in the third. Sheyenne loaded the bases again with no outs in the fourth, and Jones walked in a run before getting a strikeout and another double play.
“(Jones) was clutch. He came in and did his job,” McChesney said. “He let the defense work for him. He got a few punchouts too, and we knew we could trust him late in the game.”
McChesney, Jones and Jorda were named to the all-West Region team. Jones and McChesney were also named all-state.
Dickinson notched six doubles in the game, including two from Shawn Steffan, who also had an RBI. Tanner Ouellette went 3 for 3 at the dish, and Chase Ballard added two hits, including an RBI double in the top of the fourth that pushed the score to 7-1. Treven Hofpfauf hit a pinch-hit double in the top of the seventh to score Steffan for the game’s final run.
Entering last week's East Region tournament as a No. 5 seed, the Mustangs outscored three opponents 12-1 to win the tournament and earn the East's top seed for state. In their first two games at state, the Mustangs outscored their opponents 17-7 - winning their eighth straight game.
But Saturday, Dickinson - a team that entered the state tournament as the No. 3 seed from the West Region - was too much for Sheyenne, which ends it season with a 26-12 record.
"We hit a lot of balls hard but right at them," Swanson said. "Take away that second inning and it's only a 2-1 game. We knew we had a good group and a lot of them stepped up. To be playing in the state championship, it was just a great experience for our players."
Dobitz was proud of his bunch for overcoming the disappointment of losing a doubleheader to Bismarck High to end the regular season, as well as a loss to the Demons in the West Region Tournament.
“These guys here have been battling almost like a family,” Dobitz said. “They’ve been together for so long and gone through a lot of adversity. Two families on the team that have lost stepdads to cancer (Lucas and Kendall Jones, and Ouellette). They’re a tight-knit group. They’ve been through the ringer on the field, and they’ve been through the ringer off the field. … I never doubted this group.”
Earlier in the day, Dickinson had defeated Bismarck Century (31-7) in the semifinals, a game delayed after play was rained out on Friday.
In that game, Kendall Jones pitched 6 2/3 innings of two-hit ball while giving up just one run. He struck out three in the win.
The Patriots’ lone run came in the third, but the Midgets scored in each of the next three innings to earn a berth in the title game.
Kramer went 2 for 4 and scored a run, and Steffan added a hit and two runs scored as well.
With only three seniors on its roster, Dickinson finished with a 29-9 record, and claimed its first state title since 2009. The Midgets had won titles in 2001, 2004 and 2007 before that.
“My team is only as good as our three seniors,” Dobitz said. “Mike McChesney, Brock Messer and Benson Kramer played from the front all year. They showed this team what it takes to play Midget baseball.”
McChesney said it was a special moment for the trio to end their careers on top.
“Me and Benny have been there for four years, Brock’s been here for three,” he said, “and to work for this moment and finally get it, there’s no greater feeling.”
D 060 100 1- 8 13 2
WFS 000 100 0- 1 4 2
Jorda, L. Jones (3) and Ballard. Beyl, Hanson (7) and Johnson. W - Jorda, 6-1. L - Beyl, 5-3.
Highlights: D: Shawn Steffan 2 for 4, 2 2B, RBI; Tanner Ouellette 3 for 3; Benson Kramer 1 for 3, run, RBI; Michael McChesney 1 for 4, 3B, run, RBI; Cam Jordan 1 for 3, run; Chase Ballard 2 for 3, 2B, RBI; Eli Jung 1 for 3, 2B, run; Treven Hopfauf 1 for 1, 2B, RBI; Lucas Jones 1 for 4, run, RBI, 4 2/3 IP, 2 H, 1 R (0 ER), 2 BB, 4 K. WFS: Nashten McFarren 2 for 2; Hayden Reynolds run.