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LEGION BASEBALL: West Fargo takes regular-season finale

Grand Forks and West Fargo have finished the American Legion regular-season baseball schedule with identical 11-7 league marks. Depending on a handful of results the rest of the weekend, the two teams could meet again in the first round of next w...

Grand Forks' Nick Moe
Grand Forks' Nick Moe (9) slides safely into third base on his way to a triple in the bottom of the 2nd against West Fargo at Kraft Field in Grand Forks, N.D. on July 21, 2011. (CHRISTIAN RANDOLPH/Grand Forks Herald)
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Grand Forks and West Fargo have finished the American Legion regular-season baseball schedule with identical 11-7 league marks.

Depending on a handful of results the rest of the weekend, the two teams could meet again in the first round of next week's North Dakota state tournament at Kraft Field.

If so, the Royals are hoping Thursday night was no indication of postseason fortunes.

West Fargo rode a four-run third inning to beat Grand Forks 10-3 in a non-conference nine-inning game at Kraft Field.

"We wanted to give our non-returners a little better finale and have them go out on a better note," Grand Forks coach Gabe Dahl said. "But (West Fargo) hit the ball, and we didn't."

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West Fargo definitely hit the ball in the third inning. Andy Young, Chance Bitzer, Tucker Bucholz, Landon Utez and Tanner Dahl strung together five consecutive singles to take a 5-2 lead.

The big inning chased Grand Forks starter Gage Salquist, who took the loss. West Fargo right-hander Zach Neer picked up the win.

"Where it all starts for us is on the mound ... that's where the tone seems to always be set," Dahl said.

The Royals then turned to Steven Holtz, who cruised through the middle three innings before giving up two runs in the seventh and two more in the eighth.

"West Fargo is solid one through nine (in the batting order)," Dahl said. "They're athletic and can make plays, too."

Young and Utez paced West Fargo's 15-hit attack with three hits each. Both players also doubled.

The Royals, meanwhile, mustered seven hits and just one extra-base hit. Nick Moe went 3-for-4 with a triple and an RBI to lead the Royals' offense.

"We just couldn't string together any hits," Dahl said.

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Depending on how Fargo Post 2 and the Bismarck Governors finish the regular season this weekend, the Royals can enter the state tournament anywhere from a No. 3 seed to a No. 6 seed.

Grand Forks, though, is guaranteed to stay out of Tuesday's first-round games, which feature the bottom four teams in the 10-team state standings.

The Royals will play Wednesday night at 8 p.m. with an opponent to be determined.

Miller has covered sports at the Grand Forks Herald since 2004 and was the state sportswriter of the year in 2019.

His primary beat is UND football but also reports on a variety of UND sports and local preps.

He can be reached at (701) 780-1121, tmiller@gfherald.com or on Twitter at @tommillergf.
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