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LEGION BASEBALL: Grafton wins Montgomery tournament

The home field for the Grafton American Legion baseball team has been unplayable this week due to storms. "Under water and under trees," Grafton coach Chad Kliniske said. While coaches and players spent the past few days cleaning up back home, Gr...

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The home field for the Grafton American Legion baseball team has been unplayable this week due to storms.

"Under water and under trees," Grafton coach Chad Kliniske said.

While coaches and players spent the past few days cleaning up back home, Grafton was cleaning up on the competition at the Robert Montgomery Memorial tournament at Kraft Field.

Grafton, behind a five-run third inning, held off Winnipeg St. James 5-4 in Sunday's championship game.

"We played better defense than we have been," Kliniske said. "We have been averaging about seven errors per game, so to have four errors over three games at this tournament is progress."

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Grafton sent 10 batters to the plate in the big third inning. No. 3 hitter David Suda had a two-run single, followed by Gage Gellner's run-scoring single to spark the rally. Later in the inning, Landon Droog drove in two more runs with a hit.

"We ran the bases well and took every extra base we should get," Kliniske said.

Grafton opened the season with three straight losses.

"We didn't look much like Spoiler baseball players," Kliniske said. "But we're making progress. We're trying to blend summer guys and spring guys and figuring out positions and batting order and pitching rotation. I have no clue at this point. I thought I knew."

Grafton, which won its sixth-straight game, improved to 10-4.

Grafton shortstop and leadoff hitter Zak Hernandez, who went 2-for-3 against St. James, was named the tournament's most valuable player.

Park River took third place in the tournament by beating the Grand Forks Blues 18-8 in five innings. Park River was led by Esten Beneda, who picked up the pitching win and went 3-for-4 at the plate with a pair of doubles.

Minto used a 13-run seventh inning to knock off the Minot Metros 16-15 in the fifth-place game.

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Bemidji VFW blanked Bonivital of Canada 11-0 for seventh place.

Related Topics: PREP SPORTSGRAFTONBASEBALL
Miller has covered sports at the Grand Forks Herald since 2004 and was the state sportswriter of the year in 2019.

His primary beat is UND football but also reports on a variety of UND sports and local preps.

He can be reached at (701) 780-1121, tmiller@gfherald.com or on Twitter at @tommillergf.
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