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Park River runs past Grafton for Montgomery title

The Park River American Legion baseball team wasn't happy with its over-aggressive base-running on Sunday in the championship game of the Montgomery Memorial tournament at Kraft Field.

Still, Grafton considered Park River's speed on the bases as the catalyst in the Pirates' 8-3 win in the rivalry matchup in the title game.

"We didn't defend the running game well and that was the difference in the contest," Grafton coach Chad Kliniske said. "They made us look bad the way they run the bases."

Grafton, though, was still able to throw out a number of Park River base runners.

"It wasn't enough," Kliniske said. "That tells you the kind of havoc they can create."

After the teams traded runs in the first inning, Park River took a 3-1 lead in the second.

Nick Thompson and Adam Swanson started the rally with singles, while Charlie Thompson followed with a double and Will Zimmerman tripled.

"We made some dumb base-running errors, but Grafton is our biggest rival and we were a little too aggressive," said Zimmerman, who was named tournament most valuable player. "We started out the year struggling with our intensity but throughout this tournament we picked it up and grinded it out."

Park River added two runs in the fourth and fifth innings to pull away.

The Pirates were sparked by a strong bottom of the order. Nick Thompson, Swanson and Charlie Thompson were a combined 7-for-9.

"We played solid throughout the tournament," Park River coach Brady Laxdal said. "We had some base-running hiccups today but kudos to Grafton for playing good defense. Rivalry games are always close."

Grafton's comeback efforts were cut short in a two-run fifth inning. The inning started with a single by Jesus Villarreal, followed by walks by Matt Suda and Tyler Kliniske. Grafton, though, followed with a sacrifice fly to right field, had a runner caught stealing and a strikeout.

"You tip your hat to them; they got us," Kliniske said.

Tom Miller

Miller has been with the Grand Forks Herald sports department for the past 13 years. He's also a Grand Forks native and UND graduate. 

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