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North Dakota state Class B baseball roundup: Langdon-E-M breaks through in Region 4, Thompson can go to a fifth-straight title game and North Star strong on the mound

"I think our kids felt a sense of relief," Langdon-E-M coach Josh Krivarchka said. "Our kids still remember losing those games. You have to make sure you close the deal. Our kids had a sense of relief and now feel like we can play loose."

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Langdon-Edmore-Munich's Grant Romfo (2) and teammates react as a teammate scores against Park River-Fordville-Lankin in the 2019 regional championship game in Park River. Photo by Eric Hylden/Grand Forks Herald

The Park River/Fordville-Lankin baseball program has won the last three consecutive North Dakota state Class B tournament baseball championships, with the 2020 season wiped out due to the pandemic.

For Langdon-Edmore-Munich, the Aggies weren't just state champs but more specifically a Region 4 roadblock.

The Cardinals lost all three years in the region championship until finally breaking through to become region champions this season and advancing to this weekend's state tournament at Jack Brown Stadium in Jamestown.

"I think our kids felt a sense of relief," Langdon-E-M coach Josh Krivarchka said. "Our kids still remember losing those games. You have to make sure you close the deal. Our kids had a sense of relief and now feel like we can play loose."

Langdon-E-M, the state tournament No. 1 overall seed, plays Beulah in the first round at 4:30 p.m. Thursday.

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The Cardinals might be inexperienced at the state baseball tournament, but the Langdon-E-M roster is loaded with football players from the back-to-back-to-back Class A football champions.

Langdon-E-M's strength is on the mound, where twin brothers Grant Romfo and Simon Romfo, as well as Cooper Zimmer, provide the Cardinals a trio of talented options.

"We knew we'd have a really solid team," Krivarchka said. "The only thing is making sure we're playing the best at the end of the year."

Langdon's last trip to the state tournament was 2006. The Cardinals have never won a state title but the co-op of Munich-Starkweather won back-to-back state titles in 1991 and 1992.

Grant Romfo has gone 7-0 on the mound with 61 strikeouts and a 1.64 earned-run average, while Simon Romfo and Zimmer are both 5-0. Simon has 54 strikeouts and Zimmer 22, while Simon has an ERA of 0.66 and Zimmer has an ERA of 2.88.

At the plate, Simon is batting an incredible .525 with eight home runs. Grant is batting .588 with 12 doubles and two home runs.

Mason Romfo, a cousin of Grant and Simon, is batting .408 with 31 hits. Brady Regner (.375), Carter Tetrault (.347), Cooper Zimmer (.367) and Markus Kingzett (.356) are all batting above .340.

Tommies back at state with younger team

Thompson has played in four straight North Dakota state Class B baseball championship games, losing three straight to Park River/Fordville-Lankin after winning it all in 2016 with a 3-2 win over Beulah.

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Despite all that past success, this is a young, inexperienced Thompson team.

The No. 4-seed Tommies play No. 5 Bishop Ryan in the first round.

"It's a different Thompson team than most," Tommies first-year head coach Nathan Soulis said. "It's a talented team but inexperienced. That was the way a lot of teams were in our region because of no spring last year."

Thompson is powered by a strong pitching staff, led by 6-foot-4 junior left-hander Kyle Odenbach.

"He can be overpowering," Soulis said. "He's got some movement, too, as a leftie. He's confident. He knows when he goes out there, he can be successful."

Soulis thinks another run to a title game isn't out of the question.

"We just have to play our best, complete game," he said. "We've struggled with some situational hitting, but if we play our game, I'm confident we can go out and beat anybody."

North Star strong on mound

North Star, the Region 5 champions, advanced to the state tournament with a strong 1-2 pitching combo of senior Tommy Nikolaisen and freshman Dane Hagler.

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North Star plays No. 3 seed LaMoure/Litchville-Marion in a state quarterfinal at 1:30 p.m.

"This group of kids has really meshed well together," North Star coach Jesse Vote said. "We've been preaching the mental aspect of things and fighting through it mentally. We want to be able to weather the storm, avoid crooked numbers and limit the bleeding."

Nikolaisen and Dane Hagler are 5-0 this season, with Hagler holding a 1.38 ERA and Nikolaisen having a 2.58 ERA.

Hagler has struck out 46 batters and Nikolaisen has 32 strikeouts.

At the plate, senior Hayden Hagler -- the older brother to Dane -- and Nikolaisen are both batting better than .400. Hayden Hagler is at .458 and Nikolaisen is at .405.

Zack Jorde is batting .366, while Dane Hagler is hitting .359 and Karsen Simon is at .357.

Related Topics: BASEBALLPREP SPORTS
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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