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Patriots hope to rebound from bad week

Spencer Flaten connects for the Patriots during the F-M invitational baseball tournament. David Samson/The Forum

A successful season has taken a bit of a downward turn in a quick way for the American Legion Patriots. However, it's a good thing for West Fargo that only two games from last week's 2-6 performance actually count in its season standings.

The Patriots dropped both ends of a doubleheader to Devils Lake before giving up a whole lot of runs in last weekend's Fargo-Moorhead Invitational Tournament.

"We haven't been pitching strikes," said pitcher Matt Strahm. "We've had a lot of walks and hit batsmen. Big innings are killing us. It seems like it all goes downhill after that one big inning."

He's referring to several big innings that were the Patriots' downfall in the F-M, like the team's last three games at press time. West Fargo lost last weekend to Tri City, New Ulm and Moorhead by the respective scores of 16-2, 15-0 and 15-8.

"It was a disappointing weekend in the aspect that we didn't play well," said Patriots coach Shannon Miller of his team that is now 16-12, but was 14-6 going into last week. "This was a good lesson to the guys that you have to show up to play every day if you want to be a topnotch team, or we can be just like years past and go through the motions out there."

It's clear that pitching was a major factor in West Fargo's three-game win streak turning into a three-game losing streak in a matter of days. But the Patriots haven't just lost their last three games, they've lost them big - by a combined score of 46-10.

"Our pitching wasn't good at all this last week," said pitcher/outfielder Tyler Gronbeck. "We just can't find the strike zone, we're having trouble locating."

The Patriots' bats certainly didn't fall silent in the F-M. West Fargo had 17 hits in their 15-8 win over Mandan (their only win in the tournament), and the team rapped 14 hits its most recent game before press time, in the 15-8 loss to Moorhead.

"But we also had 11 unearned runs (versus Moorhead), and that was the story of the weekend," said Miller. "They were scoring in bunches, because we were giving them two or three extra outs. It doesn't matter who you're playing - even a T-ball team - they are going to score if you give them outs."

Shortstop Cole Mapes has returned from an ankle injury that kept him out of five games. The Patriots are in sixth place in the 11-team state standings but only two games back from leader Fargo.

Results from West Fargo's Tuesday doubleheader with Fargo were unavailable at press time. The Patriots play a doubleheader against Wahpeton today.