Grand Forks had an early Fourth of July baseball celebration. There were fireworks with the bats when the Blue Devils scored nine and 13 runs in a doubleheader on July 2 at Williston.
Unfortunately for Grand Forks, the Senior Babe Ruth baseball team allowed 13 and 15 runs in the two games as Williston swept the Blue Devils.
That doubleheader was the exception rather than the rule for Grand Forks this summer, however.
More often than not, Grand Forks pitchers have been stingy in allowing runs. The hurlers have led the team to a 14-15 overall record and the No. 4 seed in the Class AA state tournament, which begins Tuesday, Aug. 4, in Bismarck.
The Blue Devils get a rematch with fifth-seed Williston in a 1 p.m. first-round game.
In its 15 games against North Dakota Class AA opponents, Grand Forks is 8-7. In 10 of those games, the Blue Devils held opponents to three or fewer runs; Grand Forks is 7-3 in those games.
“Those games could have gone either way,’’ Grand Forks coach Kelvin Ziegler said. “Those are games you feel you should have a chance to win.’’
That’s a confidence Grand Forks has whenever Brody Sorenson, Zach Ziegler and Zach Carolin have pitched.
“Our top three pitchers have been very, very good,’’ Kelvin Ziegler said. “We’re very confident when they’re out there pitching. We tend to play very well defensively behind them.
“We anticipated they’d do well watching them coming up through the system and seeing them pitch last year. We felt we’d have a strong one-two-three.’’
Success comes with different styles for the three right-handers.
Sorenson, who has signed to play baseball at Minnesota-Crookston, is the ace.
“If we have to win a game, Brody’s the guy we want to run out to the mound,’’ Kelvin Ziegler said. “He’s a multi-faceted pitcher. He throws hard, consistently 82 to 85 mph. Plus he has a good curve and he throws an effective changeup.’’
Zach Ziegler, a senior-to-be at Grand Forks Central High School, and Carolin, who has signed to play baseball at Northern State in Aberdeen, S.D., are effective while not as overpowering as Sorenson.
“Zach (Ziegler) relies on his defense,’’ Kelvin Ziegler said. “He’s a pitch-to-contact kid. He’s good at hitting his spots.
“Zach (Carolin) gives hitters different looks. He’s a smart pitcher who finds ways to get outs. As a catcher when he’s not pitching, he understands the game. He knows how to mix up pitches and keep batters off-balance. He’s very crafty.’’
After the big three, however, Kelvin Ziegler is still looking for pitching consistency. Left-hander Jack Jahnke has been the most consistent of the rest of the pitchers.
“Brody, Zach and Zach have been very consistent,’’ Kelvin Ziegler said. “But with the pitch-count rules, you have to have pitching depth if you want to get deep into the tournament. Our biggest challenge has been finding our fourth and fifth pitchers.’’
What Ziegler would like to avoid is high-scoring games like the Williston doubleheader.
“Hopefully, we can control the games a little better and be more consistent on the mound,’’ the GF coach said.