GGF-area baseball notebook: State-bound Grafton still focused on section tourney
Section tournament play begins in approximately two weeks in North Dakota. With state tournament berths on the line, there's no pressure on Grafton. That doesn't diminish the sense of urgency for Grafton. "We want to get to state, but we don't wa...
Section tournament play begins in approximately two weeks in North Dakota. With state tournament berths on the line, there's no pressure on Grafton.
That doesn't diminish the sense of urgency for Grafton.
"We want to get to state, but we don't want to back in," Grafton coach Chad Kliniske said. "But if it does happen that way, at least we'll have time to regroup."
The Class B American Legion state tournament will be held in Grafton beginning July 28. In a new format this summer, the state reduced the number of sections from eight to seven. Each section winner qualifies for state, as does the host team.
Thus, Grafton is a state participant regardless of how it does in the Section 4 tournament.
Kliniske, however, isn't downplaying the section tournament. He's looking at tradition.
"For us, the section should mean something," Kliniske said. "We've been in the section championship every year except one since the state went to the section format. I think that was in 2000. We're used to playing in the section championship. We want to keep that going.
"We've always stressed our history a lot here. And we will drive that point home with this group, too."
Kliniske said Grafton has struggled in some games of late.
He says Grafton's hitting, from top to bottom in the lineup, is as good as anybody else in the section. Pitching could be the key variable.
"Every team in our section has at least one or two good pitchers," Kliniske said. "It usually takes at least three strong pitching performances, plus the ability to piece together a fourth game, to get through the section.
"When Sam (Tweten) and Colby (Aasand) are on, they're as good a pitcher as anybody in our section. And I feel we have more pitching depth than a lot of teams."
GF Royals have missed opportunities
The summer is turning into one of games lost for the Grand Forks Royals American Legion baseball team.
On Tuesday, Devils Lake forfeited a pair of games to the Royals because the team didn't have enough players to field a team. The Royals have now lost seven games from their original 38-game schedule.
A doubleheader against Wahpeton was lost when, a few weeks before the season began, Wahpeton was allowed to switch from Class A to Class B status. Crookston also canceled a doubleheader, and a game against East Grand Forks was rained out was rained out and it's unclear if it can be rescheduled.
"I've never seen anything like this before. It's weird," Royals coach Gabe Dahl said. "It's frustrating, because we have a group of kids who are excited about playing ball."
With 13 games scheduled in the next two weeks, the Royals still are on pace to exceed last season's 29-game regular-season schedule, which lost several games due to inclement weather.
Dahl doesn't see fewer games as being a problem in preparing for postseason tournaments.
"We'd rather be playing the games," Dahl said. "But there's nothing we can do about it; it's out of our hands. And you get better through repetition in practices, not just in playing the games. But the kids would rather be playing the games."
Strong start for Stephen-Argyle
Stephen-Argyle took a 6-2 record into Wednesday's game against Ada. Veteran S-A coach Chris Mills said it is the program's best start since the 2002 season.
Not coincidentally, the team has 13 players on its roster who are between the ages of 16 and 18. Stephen-Argyle is fielding a lineup with Legion-eligible players and not relying on Babe Ruth (age 15-and-under) players.
"The last 4-5 years, we've always depended on at least a couple of Babe Ruth kids to fill out a lineup," Mills said. "That makes it tough for scheduling with players on both the Babe Ruth and Legion teams. And it's tough for Babe Ruth-age kids to play Legion and be competitive."
Mills said the Legion players also are the first group to have played Cal Ripken (age 12-and-under) and Babe Ruth ball. "The kids are better baseball players," he said. "They're better fundamentally, they understand the game better and we have a few more guys with pitching experience."
Jamison St. Germain (.570, 14 runs, 10 RBI) and Jared Jacobson (.480, 14 runs) at the top of the order spark the offense, with Daulton Hendrickson (.540, 14 RBI) and Alex Borowicz (.400, 3 HR, 8 RBI) providing punch in the middle for a lineup that averages 7 runs a game. Borowicz and Jared Nelson are the top pitchers.
Stephen-Argyle has wins against the likes of Fosston, Warroad and Red Lake Falls. "Those are what I consider to be some of the best teams in our subsection," Mills said.