GRAND FORKS — In his first two seasons pitching for Fargo Post 2, Taylor Parrett played on two state champion American Legion baseball teams.
That title eluded Post 2 last season, Parrett’s third with the team.
But Fargo bounced back this season. On Tuesday, Post 2 won its fourth state title in the past five seasons, defeating the Grand Forks Royals 7-0 in the title game of the North Dakota Class AA American Legion baseball tournament.
The failure to win last season "definitely was incentive for us," said Parrett, who was named the tournament’s most valuable player.
"We knew what it felt like to not win last year," Parrett said. "That was awful. We didn’t want to feel it happen again. Winning never gets old. It makes it a little more enjoyable, coming back to win after last year."
Parrett and Austin Manuel combined to pitch a four-hitter in the championship game.
Parrett, a member of the North Dakota State baseball team last spring, got the win, allowing three hits while striking out seven through five innings. Manuel struck out two while allowing one hit in two innings of relief for the save.
Grand Forks had an early scoring opportunity, loading the bases with one out in the bottom of the first inning on a Parker Monette leadoff single and two walks. But Parrett got out of the inning with a pair of strikeouts.
"Taylor was able to make big pitches," Fargo coach Luke Rustad said. “With his velocity — he’s consistently around 85 to 87 mph — he’s tough to hit. Getting out of the first without giving up a run was huge. If Grand Forks scratches in a run, the way they’ve been scoring runs, it could have been a different game."
Instead, Fargo took a 1-0 lead in the second. Drew Sandy and Chandler Ibach opened the inning with back-to-back singles. Sandy advanced to third on a fly out and scored on Zach Sandy’s sacrifice fly to center field.
"I think getting that first run was big," Rustad said. “To get on the board first with your top pitcher going, you have a little more confidence."
Brandt Kolpack drove in a run with a sacrifice fly in the third inning and Cole Hage singled home a run in the fourth for a 3-0 lead. In the seventh, Fargo broke the game open, scoring four runs on four hits.
Grand Forks was coming off back-to-back wins in which it scored 16 runs on 19 hits against Minot and 11 runs on 14 hits against Williston.
"The difference was the pitching," Royals coach Nick Chine said. "Parrett has good velocity. He had a little control trouble today, which gave us a few scoring opportunities. But he’s tough to hit. And then (Manuel) came in and did a good job. That would have been a real nice momentum builder if we could have gotten a run or two in the first."
Drew Sandy had three hits and Kolpack, Zachary Kluvers and Jonas Sanders two each to lead Post 2.
Fargo advances to the regional tournament with a 46-5 overall record. Grand Forks, which was in the state championship game for the first time since winning the title in 1999, closed the season at 20-14.
FAR 011 100 4 -- 7 11 0
GF 000 000 0 -- 0 4 0
WP — Taylor Parrett; LP — Zach Vodden
Highlights — F: Drew Sandy 3x4, 2B, 2R; Brandt Kolpack 2x3, 2B, 2 RBI; Zachary Kluvers 2x2, 2B; Jonas Sanders 2x4; Chandler Ibach 1x3; Cole Hager 1x4; GF: Joey Grabanski 1x2, 2B; Brenden Bethke 1x2; Coby Tweten 1x3; Parker Monette 1x4
Tournament MVP — Taylor Parrett, Fargo Post 2