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Grand Forks Red River falls to Wahpeton 10-3 in East Region quarterfinal

Huskies put up six runs in the first, four runs in the seventh to move to the semifinal round

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Red River pitcher Mason Stroh talks strategy with Roughriders catcher Jaden Rustad (8) on the mound in the early innings of a N.D. East Region quarterfinals baseball game held at Kraft Field in Grand Forks on Tuesday, May 24, 2022.
Nick Nelson / Grand Forks Herald
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GRAND FORKS – Five walks and a hit-by-pitch in the first inning set up an insurmountable Wahpeton lead for the Red River offense to overcome.

After three Wahpeton runs were scored without recording a hit, Jayden King cleared the loaded bases with a double and in the blink of an eye, the Huskies led 6-0 in the top of the first inning. They would hold on through the next 21 outs and advance in the East Region tournament with a 10-3 win over the Roughriders on Tuesday at Kraft Field.

“We were fine. We just have to throw strikes in the first inning and we didn’t do that. It’s as simple as that,” Red River head coach Mark Varriano said. “Logan Okstad came in a threw a great game and that’s all we can ask. That’s what we have said since day one, throw strikes, and he did.”

Mason Stroh started the game on the mound for Red River, but was replaced by Okstad before the third out of the opening inning was recorded. Okstad’s outing was quite commendable, allowing just one into the final inning and kept the door open for the Roughrider bats with his effective offspeed pitching.

“We hit the ball fine, but we struck out to much in certain situations and didn’t but the ball in play. Especially with bases loaded or guys on base. Some really poor strikeouts,” said Varriano.

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As for the offense, A hot second inning kept things interesting. Okstad, Jaden Rustad, Brett Feller, Dylan Desmarais, and Cole LeDuc each connected for hits a Desmarais double that scored a run and a LeDuc single that scored two and cut Wahpeton’s lead in half.

Until the seventh inning, Red River was out-hitting the Huskies 10-2. In the third, fifth, sixth and seventh inning, the Roughriders had two runners on base and failed to drive in any runs.

Then in the seventh Wahpeton put things out of reach.

It started with small ball tactics. A leadoff single from Jackson Fiflet allowed Josiah Hofman to bunt him over to second which was then capitalized on by Gavin Schroeder. His second hit of the game added the first insurance run and started a burst of production from the plate.

Caden Hockert doubled on a line drive to center field and scored Schroeder, and Jack Rittenour and Caden Kappes each supplied RBI singles to set up the final 10-3 score.

Now moving to consolation games in the EDC tourney, the Roughriders will take on first-seeded West Fargo in the first game of the back-half of the bracket. The Packers were upset 8-3 by Valley City in the quarterfinals on Tuesday.

“It always sucks to lose. (Our state tourament fate) depends on what the kids want to do. Do they want to roll over and die or do they want to play some more? That’s going to be on them. We’ll prepare Wednesday and Thursday, throw Brett Feller on Friday and get a win and then compete on Saturday. That’s all we can do,” Varriano said.

Grand Forks Central will join the Riders after its 2-1 loss to West Fargo Sheyenne. The Knights will see Shanley at Kraft Field.

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Wahpeton 10,

Grand Forks Red River 3

WHS 600 000 4 10 7 1

RR 030 000 000 0 3 10 1

WHS – Gavin Schroeder 2-3, 2 RBI; Caden Hockert 1-2, 2 RBI; Jack Rittenour 1-3, 2 RBI; Jayden King 1-2, 3 RBI; Caden Kappes 1-3, RBI; Kappes (W) 4.2 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 4 BB, 5 K

RR – Cole LeDuc 2-5, RBI; Jaden Rustad 2-4; Brett Feller 2-3; Mason Stroh 1-3; Dylan Desmarais 1-4, 2 RBI; Stroh (L) 0.2 IP, 0 H, 6 ER, 5 BB, 1 SO

Digital Content Producer and Sports Reporter at the Grand Forks Herald since December of 2020. Maxwell can be contacted at mmarko@gfherald.com.
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