FARGO — The players for Fargo Post 2’s Senior Babe Ruth baseball team felt Jim Pettersen was watching them Sunday at Jack Williams Stadium.
It was the championship game of the Jim Pettersen Fargo-Moorhead Invitational, named after Post 2’s former team manager who passed away this spring due to the coronavirus pandemic.
After rallying twice to tie the score against West Fargo, Post 2 scored the winning run in the bottom of the ninth inning to claim a 5-4 title win.
“It was emotional after the game … we knew Pete was watching the game,” said Post 2’s Zach Kluvers. “It was just meant to be.”
Pettersen’s family that included his grandchildren were honored Friday night when the tournament began. Post 2 then proceeded to win all of its games to reach Sunday’s championship against West Fargo.
Trailing 2-1 in the seventh, Post 2 tied it 2-2. Trailing 4-2 in the eighth, Post 2 rallied to tie it when Jace Dew’s RBI single drove in Cole Hage.
In the bottom of ninth with two outs, Kluvers hit a chopper to the shortstop. The ball bounced by his glove. Sam Moser, one of the fastest players on Post 2’s team, was able to score the winning run from second base.
“With two strikes, I was just trying to put something in play,” Kluvers said. “It turned out to be the right hop. I knew that (Moser) was running on contact. When I heard the crowd cheer, I knew he scored.”
The win improves Post 2’s record to 21-2 — one season after reaching the American Legion World Series championship game.
“Our offense and solid defense has carried us pretty much so far this season,” said Post 2 coach Luke Rustad. “Slowly but surely, our pitching is getting better. I’m really not surprised that we’ve been able to play this well. This group is gritty. They have that confidence that they are never out of it.”
Rustad admitted he got choked up when he talked to his players after the championship win.
“I told them I know it’s not a state championship, but it really meant a lot to bring this tournament home for Jim,” Rustad said. “I could feel him next to us.”
In Sunday’s semifinals, Post 2 defeated the Minnesota Blizzard 7-2 and West Fargo defeated Wayzata 3-0.
In Sunday’s games at Fargo’s Starion Field, Fargo Post 400 defeated Moorhead 3-2 while Watertown (S.D.) defeated Hopkins (Minn.) 10-4.
In Sunday’s games at West Fargo’s Young Field, Chanhassen (Minn.) defeated Excelsior (Minn.) 3-1 and Sioux Falls (S.D.) East defeated Excelsior No. 2 4-3.
In Sunday’s game at Fargo North High School, Rogers (Minn.) defeated Wayzata No. 2 15-3.