BISMARCK -- Before Ben Patton's last at bat on Tuesday, it had been a rare off day for the Bismarck Governors standout.
Given one more chance, the University of Jamestown recruit came through.
Tied 5-5 with the bases loaded and two outs in the bottom of the seventh inning, Patton lined a single into center field to score Noah Riedinger to lift the Govs to a 6-5 victory over Grand Forks in opening-round play of the state Class AA Legion baseball tournament in Mandan.
Before his last at bat, Patton had been 0-for-3 at the plate and had an uncharacteristically short start on the mound of just three innings.
"I always try to prepare myself to think that no matter what sporting event it is, it's never the biggest shot or the biggest at bat or the biggest pitch, it's just the next one," said the typically deep-thinking Patton. "I don't ever try to put extra pressure on myself. In that scenario, the worst thing that happens is I don't get a hit and then the next inning we have our 2-3-4 hitters coming up and we probably find a way to score then."
Patton's walk off winner capped a gutty win by the Govs. Grand Forks scored four runs in the top of the first and it was all uphill from there for manager Mike Skytland's team.
"Those types of wins are the ones where you're most proud of your team," the skipper said. "You get down right away to a good team like Grand Forks and you know it's going to be tough."
Zach Carolin's two-run double highlighted a four-run top of the first inning for the Royals, where they forced Patton to throw 40 pitches.
"It definitely wasn't the way I wanted to start. I had a little trouble finding the zone and give them credit, I thought they hit some good pitches" Patton said. "Thankfully my teammates picked me up."
The Govs got on the board in the bottom of the second, with Jackson Klipfel scoring Cru Walker on a sac fly to right.
In their next at bat, the Governors tied it.
Isaac Pegors led off the third with a single and raced to second on a ringing double by 3-hole hitter Jackson Uhler. The next batter, Jack Johnson, nearly tied it with one swing. On the second pitch from lefty Jack Jahnke, Johnson banged a double off the right-field scoreboard to score two runs. Johnson went to third on Walker’s single and scored the tying run when Noah Riedinger stroked a single into center, tying the game at 4-4.
"The kids kept chipping away. I thought we had a lot of good at bats up and down the lineup at some really important times in the game," Skytland said.
Still 4-4, the Govs got their first lead in the bottom of the fifth.
With the bases loaded and two outs, Lucas Schell coaxed a full-count walk to bring home Uhler with the go-ahead run.
Grand Forks tied in its next at bat. With runners on the corners, Govs relief pitcher Isaac Pegors’ pickoff throw to first was wild, allowing Dillion Kuntz to score easily from third.
The Govs' winning rally came with two outs. With Riedinger on first, Miles Stiefel and Jackson Klipfel ripped back-to-back singles to load the bases. On a 2-1 pitch, Patton got a fastball from Brett Feller and did not miss it.
"He (Feller) schooled me and made me look pretty dumb," Patton said of his sixth-inning strikeout against Feller. "I was looking for fastball away and I was able to get the barrel on it and called it a game."
Matt Scribner singled in each of his first three at bats for Grand Forks, which faces Mandan in a loser-out game Wednesday at 4 p.m.
The Govs and West Fargo meet in the second winner's bracket game at 7 p.m.