GRAND FORKS — Evan Arenz is a University of North Dakota football recruit as a kicker. The Mandan athlete also is effective on the baseball field with his pitching arm.
The No. 8-seeded Chiefs kept their season alive Saturday. Arenz was the winning pitcher as Mandan beat West Fargo 6-5 in the loser-out round of the North Dakota Class 2A American Legion baseball tournament at Kraft Field.
Arenz threw into the sixth inning before being relieved after reaching his maximum pitch count.
“All season long, Evan’s been our best pitcher,’’ Mandan coach Jake Kincaid said. “He got us into the state tournament winning a play-in game. We wanted to ride him as far as we could. His control is usually good. And he lets the defense do its thing.’’
That defense was never bigger than in the fifth inning. West Fargo, down 6-4, loaded the bases with nobody out. After Arenz got a strikeout for the first out, Easton Andresen relieved. The first batter he faced grounded into an inning-ending double play.
“It wasn’t looking very good,’’ Kincaid said. “But we turned the double play. I wouldn’t say (double plays) have been common for us. It’s hard to imagine we’ve had any bigger ones than that one.’’
The double play, West Fargo coach Jordan Rheault said, “changed momentum. Three on and nobody out, you think things are breaking your way. When they turned that, it was like a slap in the face.’’
West Fargo pulled within 6-5 with a run in the seventh, but stranded two runners in the inning for a total of nine runners left on base in the game.
Mandan never trailed after bunching five hits and a walk for three runs in the first inning. The Chiefs added three more runs in the fourth to take a 6-1 lead, only to see the Patriots answer with three runs in the bottom of the inning.
Arenz, Isaac Huettle and Jaxon Duttenheffer each had three hits for Mandan.
Dustin Mertz had three hits for West Fargo.