Ty's Take: Patriots, Aces head to state
Beginning this week, two West Fargo American Legion baseball teams will be representing their home town at their respective state tournaments.
Funny how time flies when you're having fun, but that's to be expected in the all-too abbreviated North Dakota legion season.
West Fargo's 19-and-under team ended its regular season on a high note by defeating Grand Forks 10-3 on Thursday - a team they will be facing in the first round of the state tournament. The Patriots (25-21) likely still had a bad taste in their mouths, however, after they were swept by the Fargo Metros the previous night 7-0, 15-6. West Fargo split with Fargo Post 2 in their Monday matchup.
Now, all that's left is the postseason, which for the Patriots begins today in Grand Forks at the Class A State Tournament.
On Tuesday, the lower-ranked teams squared off to see who got the chance to move up into the main bracket, results of which were not available by press time. No. 2 Mandan and No. 1 Williston get to play the winners. The No. 5 Patriots face No. 4 Grand Forks at 8 p.m. in tonight's nightcap, while No. 3 Bismarck and No. 6 Fargo open the day at 11 a.m.
Leading the Patriots into the postseason on offense is Andy Young. The slugger is tops in several team categories, including batting average (.418), runs (62) home runs (12), runs batted in (49), doubles (12), and has struck out only 11 times in 158 at bats.
But the talent doesn't drop off from there. In all, the Patriots boast eight batters who are averaging above .300. Rounding out the Top 5 include Tanner Dahl (.379), Kory Wolden (.374), Spencer Flaten (.358), and Landon Uetz (.344).
The Pats also have prowess in pitching. Heading into postseason play, Dahl is the clear ace with a 5-3 record, 70 strikeouts (more than double any other player) and an earned run average of just 2.09. Other top producers from the mound include Bitzer (3-3, 25 Ks, 21 BBs, 23 runs, 2.90 ERA), Zach Steckler (5-0, 27 Ks, 22 BBs, 26 runs, 4.48 ERA) and Zach Neer (4-1, 17 Ks, 19 BBs, 27 runs, 6.33 ERA).
West Fargo's other legion team also kicks things off this week.
The 17-and-under Aces will face Fargo at 1 p.m. Thursday in the Class A State Junior American Legion baseball tournament, which runs through July 31 at Mandan's Veteran's Memorial Park. Dickinson and Grand Forks square off 30 minutes after the Aces/Fargo game, the winner of which moves on to face Mandan. The winner of the West Fargo/Fargo game will play against Minot at 5:30 p.m.
The Aces finished the regular season just under .500 at 19-20.