LANGDON, N.D. -- Playing time has not been an issue here.
Tanner Groth hasn’t heard any complaints from his players about lack of playing time. Figuring out who to play isn’t a problem, since there are only 10 players on the roster of Groth’s Langdon Class B independent baseball team.
Despite the lack of numbers, Langdon is 16-3 and headed to the Class B state tournament after the Red Sox won the District 5 tournament. The B state tournament runs Aug. 7-9 in Minot.
Langdon had to reach into its feeder program to field a team, as Carter Tetrault and Jack Romfo play on both the Babe Ruth and the age 19-and-under independent team. There were days when the Red Sox and Langdon’s Babe Ruth team both had games and Groth had only one of the Babe Ruthers available.
But the team avoided injuries and COVID-19 and was able to play every game on its schedule.
“The past three years, we’ve had 12 to 15 kids on the Legion (19-and-under) team consistently,’’ Groth said. “I didn’t see this coming. I thought we’d be around 12 kids not including any Babe Ruthers.
“We never had kids come up with excuses to not be there at practices and games. I never worried about them being gone on vacation. They want to be there every game. And we have some good athletes. We’ve been pretty blessed in that way up here. One through nine in the lineup, we have solid kids.’’
Pitcher/infielder Grant Simon said the low numbers “are no big deal to us. I kind of like it. We all get lots of playing time. Nobody complains about not getting to play, that’s for sure.’’
Perhaps surprisingly, pitching depth is one of the team’s strengths.
Finding enough pitching is sometimes a problem for teams with a lot more than 10 players on its roster. And Groth said finding enough players who could throw strikes and work through pitch-count limitations was a concern at the start of the year.
“That was probably our biggest concern,’’ Groth said. “But we have eight guys who are solid, consistent throwers. We’re lucky. You don’t always have five guys you can rely on. We’re probably deeper in pitching than most teams. We’ve struggled hitting sometimes, but our pitching has always kept us in games.’’
That pitching strength showed in the district tournament. Langdon won its first two games with shutouts, then beat a hard-hitting Park River team 14-4 in the championship.
Grant Romfo (3-0, 0.62 earned run average), Ethan Sampson (2-0, 0.62), Simon Romfo (4-1, 1.24), Brennan Kitchin (2-0, 2.25) and Cooper Zimmer (3-1, 2.52) all have earned run averages of less than 3.00.
The aces are twin brothers Grant and Simon Romfo. “They both throw hard, and they throw a curve and a changeup,’’ Groth said. “The offspeed stuff sets them apart. They keep hitters off balance.’’
Success isn’t new to the Langdon athletes.
Groth said every player on the team is a multisport athlete. Most of them play three different sports. Seven were starters on the Langdon-Edmore-Munich football team that was undefeated Class A state high school champion last fall.
“I think (football success) developed a competitiveness, a winning mentality, that’s helped us in other sports,’’ Grant Simon said. “Going to another state tournament is exciting for us.’’
Langdon at a glance
Coach: Tanner Groth.
Leading hitters: Simon Romfo (.480, 3 HR, 25 RBI), Jack Romfo (.373, 15 RBI), Grant Romfo (.328, 11 RBI), Jackson Delvo (.326, 11 RBI), Carter Tetrault (.312, 13 RBI).
Leading pitchers: Grant Romfo (3-0, 0.62 ERA), Ethan Sampson (2-0, 0.62), Simon Romfo (4-1, 1.24, staff-leading 31 strikeouts), Brennan Kitchin (2-0, 2.25), Cooper Zimmer (3-1, 2.52).