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Season ends for pats

Don't blame Brett Peterson if he's suffering from a headache all week this week. He's suffering from a severe case of déj? vu.

The West Fargo Patriots manager, who also is the coach of the West Fargo Packer spring baseball club, watched his team fall apart once again in the loser-out game of a regional tournament, something he's seen all too often this year.

The Packer squad fell to Fargo South in must-win situation, when a base-running gaffe gifted the Bruins the game. This time, a nightmare of an inning spelled the end of the Patriots season, just when it seemed the summer club would advance to the State Legion Tournament by play-in game.

West Fargo lost the opening round game to Wahpeton, a team that eventually fell to Valley City in their loser-out contest. Valley, who had not won a game in regular season play, pieced together a single win Saturday and made it to the state tourney.

As for the Pats, it was up to the squad to pull out a win on Saturday, as they square off against Jamestown. Things were looking great, as West Fargo scored a run in the first and added another in the fifth, holding a 2-0 lead through five innings. Matt Kulesa was rolling, keeping the Jamestown bats quiet, and the Patriot defense was solid.

But the wheels came off in the ninth inning, as Jamestown scored 13 runs in the top half of the frame, leaving much of the West Fargo faithful, and all of the team, speechless. It was a breakdown of the worst proportion, and it cut any hopes of a comeback down for the Patriot squad.

"It was unlike anything that I've ever seen," Peterson said. "They just kept putting it in play and it found the hole every time. They strung together 10 hits, we only gave up one walk, and in 20 minutes, it was over. Usually, you see a big inning like that and it takes at least half an hour because you've given up a bunch of walks, but it was all them making contact."

Jamestown victimized pitchers Matt Kulesa, Tyler Greshik and Matt Renfrew in those innings to cruise to the win. And once the hitting started, it wouldn't stop.

"We had a chance to make it 3-0 in the bottom of the sixth, and they stopped us, and that really changed the momentum. They got fired up after that, and maybe that's what got them rolling," Peterson said.

It was, in a sense, a microcosm of the last month for the Patriots. West Fargo dropped several games thanks to a single inning in most games. The opening round game to Wahpeton and the loser-out contest were no exception. West Fargo gave up 19 runs in those two innings, the only runs they suffered in the entire tournament.

"And we weren't able to put together an inning like that ourselves the last few weeks," Peterson said. "You could see our defense improving. We made a lot of progress with a few guys on the mound, and we probably had the deepest pitching staff of anybody. But, as a team, we went into a slump when it came to timely hitting. We could get hits, but we couldn't piece it together for a big inning of our own."

That was a surprise, Peterson said, for a team that played strong on the offensive side through much of the spring and early summer. All along, Peterson thought his team's strengths would be offensively, where experience and power paced the Pack to some big wins. But as West Fargo's defense and pitching improved, its offense went into a shell. And, it was a team truly victimized by big innings.

"We gave up one too many of them, which is tough. We really thought this was a team that could go out to state and make something happen. We knew those top seeds would be tough, but it just takes one game in a tournament format. Ask Valley City," Peterson said.