Big start lifts West Fargo past Red River in East Region baseball

The Packers jumped to a 6-0 lead through three innings en route to a victory at Kraft Field.

052621 S GFH EDCBASEQ JustinWasvick BraydenJacobson01.jpg
West Fargo pitcher Brayden Jacobson (right) tags out Red River runner Justin Wasvick along the first baseline in the final innings of the Eastern Dakota Conference (EDC) championship quarterfinals game at Kraft Field on Tuesday, May 25, 2021. Nick Nelson / Grand Forks Herald

Brett Peterson knew exactly how he wanted to start the North Dakota East Region baseball tournament.

The West Fargo manager wanted Brayden Jacobson on the mound.

"He's been our dude," Peterson said. "You get to the first game of EDC, especially with the seed we're at, you go with your best and try to get on the right side of the bracket."

Jacobson delivered with an excellent start. The Packer hitters followed through, giving their ace a big lead. And West Fargo won the first-round East Region matchup 11-4 on Tuesday afternoon at Kraft Field.

Peyton Jantzi led West Fargo with four hits, while Carter Birrenkott and Jaden Grafsrud each added three. Jacobson pitched into the sixth, when the game was well decided.


The Packers led 5-0 after two innings and 6-0 after three. When the top of the sixth inning came to an end, West Fargo led 11-0 and had only allowed three Roughrider baserunners.

"That's their No. 1 pitcher and he's really good," Red River manager Mark Varriano said. "If you don't put the ball in play, you're going to struggle, which we did. But you've got to give them credit, because they put the ball in play. They hit the ball and they threw the ball. They did pretty well."

The Packers, the East Region's fifth seed, advance to a state-qualifying game at 4 p.m. Friday against top-seeded West Fargo Sheyenne at West Fargo's Young Field.

Red River, the East Region's fourth seed, will play a loser-out game against eighth-seeded Fargo South at 11 a.m. Friday.

"We're still alive," Varriano said. "There's another day, another game. We're going to take it one day at a time. That's all we can do. I feel good about our next shot. If we don't hurt ourselves, we'll be fine. If we win that game, we have a chance to go to state still. So, things are still OK."

The Roughriders also won't have to deal with Jacobson, who didn't allow Red River much offense early in Tuesday's game.

Jacobson struck out five Roughriders in the first two innings. Then, he set 10 batters down in a row starting with the final out in the second inning and continuing through the fifth.

"He's a gamer," Peterson said of Jacobson. "He can really attack both sides of the plate. If we're set up on the outside corner, he'll hit the outside corner. Same thing on the inside. His offspeed pitch is good enough that it makes his fastball that much faster. And he has two strikeout pitches with his curveball and fastball. He can really throw those pitches anywhere in the count, so that makes him pretty dangerous up there."


Ryan Muizelaar led Red River at the plate with three hits and a run. Spencer Sproule had two hits and scored, while Gunnar Heuchert doubled.

All four Red River runs came in the sixth after the Roughriders were in a big hole.

"I liked the way we battled at the end there," said Varriano, who lamented the team's three errors early in the game. "The errors hurt us again, like they've been doing all year, at bad times. It seems that every time we make an error, they capitalize somehow, someway."

West Fargo 11, Red River 4

West Fargo 141 005 0 -- 11 14 3

Red River 000 004 0 -- 4 6 3

WP: Brayden Jacobson; LP: Brett Feller

Highlights -- WF: Peyton Jantzi 4x4, 2 runs, Carter Birrenkott 3x5, 2 2Bs, 3 runs, Jaden Grefsrud 3x5, 2B, 3B, 3 RBIs; RR: Ryan Muizelaar 3x3, run; Spencer Sproule 2x3, run, 2 RBIs, Gunnar Heuchert 1x3, 2B


Schlossman has covered college hockey for the Grand Forks Herald since 2005. He has been recognized by the Associated Press Sports Editors as the top beat writer for the Herald's circulation division four times and the North Dakota sportswriter of the year once. He resides in Grand Forks. Reach him at
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