Patriots' season ends in Dickinson
After an impressive outing in the North Dakota state tournament, in which they won the title, the West Fargo Patriots' season came to an end this past weekend in the Central Plains Regional American Legion Tournament in Dickinson, N.D.
In Thursday's game against Edina, Minn., the Patriots fought to the bitter end, being tied 2-2 in the bottom of the ninth inning before Edina's Nick Omodt ripped a walk-off base hit into center field to win the game 3-2.
In their game on Friday morning against Brookings, S.D., the Patriots went against a tough pitcher in Matt Thomas, who struck out nine batters, and had pitching issues of their own in a 7-3 loss to end the season.
In the final game, starting pitcher Camran Bonnema struggled on the mound, walking the first two batters of the second inning and hitting the next three. After this, the team could not get back in the game.
The Patriots were led in the game by center fielder Kory Wolden, who went 1-2 with a walk and two runs. RBIs came from left fielder Brock Evenson and catcher Tucker Bucholz. Shortstop Andy Young went 1-3 with a run.
Head coach Bill Ibach called it an exciting season and was very impressed with his team, especially during the 48-team Battle of Omaha Tournament and in the State Tournament. "Going into state as the No. 2 seed was a pretty big deal," Ibach said. "All four games were pretty tough, but we came through."
Despite the two losses to end the season, Ibach saw plenty of merit in the way his team played.
"We battled really well at Regionals," Ibach said, "Against Edina, we had a few chances to take the lead, but we couldn't pull it off. Against, Brookings, Camran had a rough outing, which is really unlike him. Chance (Pitzer) pitched in relief and kept us in, but we just couldn't get over the hump."
The Patriots had great performances, both at the plate and in the field, this season from several players, especially Young, who had 72 hits and 10 home runs during the regular season, and Bucholz, who had a batting average of .496 on the year. Bonnema had a record of 5-2 with an ERA of 2.28 and 46 strikeouts. Outfielder Brock Evenson had a perfect fielding percentage in the 43 games he played, and Wolden had 11 stolen bases.
Of all these great performances, Ibach talked to me about the performances on the mound that the team got from starting pitcher Tanner Dahl,who went 8-0 in 10 starts during the regular season and had an ERA of 1.83 and 57 strikeouts.
"When Tanner is on the mound, we feel like we can beat any team," Ibach said. "You can see it in the players. They're just a different team."
The Patriots finished the season with a record of 39-16, and Ibach could not be happier with their performance this season.
"I'm really proud of these kids," Ibach said. "About half of them won't be back next year, and I'm glad they had the chance to end on a good note. As I told them, they left me with a ton of great memories."