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Raymond RBI sends Red River to first Class A state baseball title game

FARGO—Will Raymond was nervous before and all throughout the game.

He feels his team wouldn't have even been in a tough situation if he hadn't, as he specifically remembers, grounded out to the right side with two outs with runners on second and third base in the third inning.

But the Grand Forks Red River senior's nerves washed away when pressure was at its highest. With a runner on third base, Raymond cracked an RBI single to give East Region No. 4-seeded Red River the go-ahead and eventual game-winning score in a 5-4 win over Minot in the Class A state baseball semifinals on Friday at Newman Outdoor Field.

This marks the first time Red River will be in the state championship game.

Raymond hadn't had a hit all game until his last at-bat. But he knew it could be his last chance at giving the Roughriders a shot at the state title. To him, there was nothing to be nervous about. He had to provide for his team.

"I don't know what it was," Raymond said. "I guess as a senior, it's all on the line."

Red River (10-6) had built up an early lead when, in the top of the third, Peyton Lotysz hit an RBI single to right field and Coby Tweten drove in another run on a fielder's choice to give the Roughriders a 2-0 lead.

Parker Monette then drove in a run and Lotysz drove in another run on a sacrifice fly in the fourth.

"We didn't make plays when we needed to," Minot coach Pete Stenberg said. "They've got a pretty good team in Red River. We didn't get enough offense going. We gave it a shot at the end."

Behind an energized crowd in the fifth frame, Minot's Nicholas Murphy, Lofton Klabunde and Carson Tonini each recorded an RBI and Alex Schimke finally drove a 1-1 pitch to left field for another RBI to tie the game.

Klabunde kept the Magicians (23-6) in the game early but was eventually tagged with the loss. He allowed five runs, three of them earned, on nine hits and walked three batters and struck out one.

"It's a tough ballgame," Stenberg said. "It just didn't come out on our side."

In the top of the seventh, Tweten started the inning off with a double to deep left field and Raymond drove the courtesy runner in to give the Roughriders the lead.

In three scoreless innings, Tweten, the winning pitcher, allowed two hits and a walk to go with four strikeouts. Red River starter Jackson Haagenson allowed four runs on two hits to go with three strikeouts and three walks.

"I'm lost for words right now. I'm just proud of the boys," Tweten said. "We just have to keep fighting. We're getting our chance, so hopefully we take full opportunity."

After starting the season 1-4, Red River now has a chance to win its first state championship in program history. Raymond believes his team is up to the challenge.

"It's an unreal feeling," Raymond said. "It's already a surreal feeling. There would be no better feeling than hanging up a banner."

Colton Pool

Pool is a reporter for The West Fargo Pioneer covering city sports and community news. He was the sports editor for The Dickinson Press covering Dickinson State athletics, high school athletics and Southwest Speedway. He graduated from North Dakota State with a degree in journalism and a minor in English. You can reach him by phone at 701-451-5715 or tweet him @CPoolReporter. 

(701) 451-5715