AREA BASEBALL NOTEBOOK: EGF must break split pattern to extend Legion season
East Grand Forks likely will have to get over its case of the splits to extend its American Legion baseball season. East Grand Forks takes the No. 2 seed into the Minnesota Division I Substate 14 tournament, which begins Thursday in Perham. Again...
East Grand Forks likely will have to get over its case of the splits to extend its American Legion baseball season.
East Grand Forks takes the No. 2 seed into the Minnesota Division I Substate 14 tournament, which begins Thursday in Perham. Against No. 1 seed Moorhead, No. 3 Perham and No. 4 Alexandria, East Grand Forks gained a split in doubleheaders against each team.
That’s not a pattern for success with a state tournament berth on the line in the double-elimination substate tournament.
“The team that wins it, I think, is the one to string together four straight wins,” EGF coach Garret Hjelle said. “I don’t see any of the teams coming through the back door and winning it. I don’t know if anybody has the pitching depth to come through the loser-out round and win.
“It’s anybody’s game. It seems like most of the teams have a few good pitchers and everybody can hit the ball. I don’t think anybody has a dominant pitcher. We all have pitchers who can keep us in games, but they need run support. I haven’t seen many games where teams have been held to one or two runs.”
The offense has been strong for 15-11-1 East Grand Forks. The hitting is led by Reed Hjelle (.478), Donnie Musgrove (.408), Trevor Selk (.375) and Scott Mortenson (.360).
East Grand Forks plays No. 7 Fergus Falls in a 4 p.m. first-round game Thursday. Kicking off the tournament is No. 5 Thief River Falls meeting Alexandria at 10 a.m.
East Grand Forks wraps up its regular season with a 5 p.m. game today against the Grand Forks Royals at Kraft Field.
- Four area teams will play in the Minnesota Division II District 9 tournament, which begins today at Pelican Rapids.
Red Lake County, the No. 1 seed from the north, kicks off the tournament against Frazee at 11:30 a.m. That’s followed by Stephen-Argyle vs. Hawley, Crookston vs. Parkers Prairie and Warroad vs. Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton.
One spot in Northeast
North Dakota went from two to three classes in Legion baseball this season. In Class B, there are four regions, with the top two finishers in each region tournament advancing to state - except in the Northeast Region.
Langdon, a member of the Northeast, hosts the Class B state tournament next week and, as such, gets an automatic state berth. That means only one other team advances to state from the double-elimination Northeast Region tournament, which begins today in Park River.
“It makes it a little tougher. There’s less room for error,” Thompson coach Brady Schwab said.
Thompson gained the No. 1 seed in the seven-team regional, something Schwab said could be a big advantage because it receives a first-round bye.
“That (bye) allows you to use one less appearance for at least one pitcher, if not more,” Schwab said. “Any time you’re in a double-elimination tournament, pitching depth is an issue for everybody.
“Most of the teams have at least one pitcher who is real solid and at least one more who is pretty good. But you need more depth. And other than Langdon’s (Kalton) Agnes, there isn’t a dominant type of pitcher. You’re going to have to score some runs to win.”
Balance in Central
Every team in the North Dakota Class B Central Region lost at least three games in region play during the season.
Top-seeded Gardner went 13-3 in region play, with Nelson County going 14-4 to get the second seed in the regional, which begins today in Carrington.
“It’s pretty wide open,” Nelson County coach Brent Luehring said of the region tournament. “Everybody seems to have been beating everybody else during the season. There are probably five or six teams that wouldn’t be a surprise if they got to state.”
As an example of the depth, Luehring points to Hatton - the No. 5 seed in the tournament but, at 18-9, having more wins than any team in the region.
“That shows the depth in the region,” Luehring said. “I think it comes down to whoever is hitting will win.”