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Fargo McNeilus rallies for title

Tyler Nelson wasn't born when his father, Randy, played on an Oakes team that won the 1979 North Dakota Class B slowpitch softball tournament. But that doesn't mean the younger Nelson has no historical perspective of the event.

Tyler Nelson wasn't born when his father, Randy, played on an Oakes team that won the 1979 North Dakota Class B slowpitch softball tournament. But that doesn't mean the younger Nelson has no historical perspective of the event.

"They (players) made sure all their kids knew about them winning a state tournament," Tyler Nelson said.

With one swing of the bat, the younger Nelson brought home a state title 30 years after his father.

Tyler Nelson's bases-loaded home run in the top of the seventh rallied Fargo McNeilus Steel Inc., to a 6-5 win over Fargo Ken Kraft Agency in the title game of the North Dakota Rec II East men's slowpitch tournament at Ulland Park on Sunday.

Ken Kraft led 5-2 entering the final inning. But, with one out, Nelson's high fly just cleared the fence in left field to turn the deficit into a 6-5 lead.

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"Tyler's got good power," McNeilus manager Nick Gulmon said. "He's one of our team leaders in home runs. He's one of the guys we want up there in that spot.

"When he hit it, we knew it was going somewhere. I wasn't sure if it would hit the fence or clear it."

McNeilus went 6-0 in the tournament; prior to the championship, the team had trailed for a total of only two innings in the tournament and had averaged 15 runs a game. Kraft, on the other hand, had rallied for six runs in the bottom of the seventh inning for a one-run victory in the semifinals.

Being behind "hasn't been common for us all year," said Gulmon, whose team is 31-5. "But I was confident about how we'd react. I was getting a little nervous, though; we haven't usually waited this long to get scoring."

Kraft didn't have a final comeback, going down in order in the bottom of the seventh. The final out came when Nelson, playing left field, charged in to make a diving catch.

That clinched the first tournament championship of the summer for McNeilus. And it pulled Nelson even with his father as far as playing on state softball championship teams.

"Now we're 1-and-1," Tyler said. "And dad's not playing anymore. I've got a chance to go by him."

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