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Mandan wins slugfest over Grand Forks

MINOT, N.D. -- Mandan coach Len Stanley and Grand Forks coach Gabe Dahl expected their state Class A American Legion loser-out game to be a slugfest Friday at Corbett Field.

MINOT, N.D. -- Mandan coach Len Stanley and Grand Forks coach Gabe Dahl expected their state Class A American Legion loser-out game to be a slugfest Friday at Corbett Field.

They were right.

The teams combined for 24 runs on 28 hits in Mandan's 14-10 win over the Royals.

Mandan advances to play Dickinson at 4:15 p.m. today, while Grand Forks' season came to an end.

"We're still in it, and that's all that matters," Stanley said. "We knew Grand Forks was going to battle and hit the ball, so we just had to hit a little and our guys showed up.


"But I give Grand Forks a lot of credit. They had a very good showing."

The Royals erased an early 2-1 deficit with a three runs in the fourth inning. Keith Howe hit a three-run shot to left to give the Royals a 4-2 advantage.

"I give our kids a lot credit for coming back, and I give (Mandan) credit ,too," Dahl said. "We battled back and forth. It was a good game; no one died. Everyone just kept coming back."

Mandan answered with six runs in the top of the fifth inning that gave the Chiefs an 8-4 lead. That was quickly trimmed by another three-run inning by the Royals in the bottom half.

"The nice thing was when they took a big lead, we battled right back to get in it," Dahl said. "They just got a couple more hits (at key times) than we did, and that's the way it goes."

The heart of Grand Forks' batting order was a key part of it staying in the game.

The three through six hitters -- David Nelson, Michael Kraft, Michael Faller and Howe -- scored a combined eight runs and were 6-for-17 at the plate. The core of the Royals' order scored at least one run in all but two innings.

"They had some big at-bats for us, but it would have been nice to get a couple more," Dahl said. "But you can't expect them to come through every time."


After Grand Forks cut the Mandan lead to 8-7 with the three runs in the fifth, the Chiefs scored one in the sixth (a solo shot by Steve Pletan) before breaking away with five in the top of the eighth.

Mandan used a hit-and-run to start the inning and batted through its order with Jared Muth, Jason Mellmer, Pletan, Jared Quast and Matt Keller all coming across.

Mandan's two big innings, the fifth and eighth, turned out to be the deciding factor.

"They were huge," Stanley said. "We came up with some timely hits, but we did strand some guys early on. The big innings obviously helped, but the key to the game was the effort of Jake Freisz on the mound."

Friesz relieved starter Jay Flaa after Flaa gave three runs and loaded the bases. The 16-year-old Friesz stopped the rally and went the rest of the way to earn the win.

Mandan's defense came up big for its young pitcher in the bottom of the eighth inning. The Royals scored two runs and loaded the bases with clean-up hitter Nelson at the plate. Friesz got Nelson to hit it to the shortstop and the Chiefs twisted a double play to get Friesz out of the jam.

"That was really a nice play, especially for (Friesz) because I was about to pull him," Stanley said.

Bismarck 6, Fargo 3: After giving the game-winning hit to Minot on Thursday night, Bismarck's Zach Wentz shut the door on Fargo on Friday in a loser-out game.


Wentz relieved starter Hunter Johnson, who held Fargo to just three runs through 8Zc innings, in the top of the ninth.

Wentz struck out the first batter and forced a pop-out to center for the final out, lifting Bismarck to the win.

"Yeah, I didn't want to end my legion season like that," Wentz said of Thursday night's loss. "Coach (Mike Skytland) told us just to let it go and go out and get the job done, so that's what I did.

"It felt good to get back in there and get the job done this time."

Bismarck plays Minot at 1 p.m. today.

Dickinson 10, Minot 4: Ben Herauf went 2-for-4 with a home run to lead Dickinson past Minot in the winners' bracket.

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