N.D. Class B state baseball preview: Langdon-E-M back to defend title with reworked roster
After winning co-op's first state championship last year, Cardinals take 17-2 mark into this weekend's state tournament in Fargo.
FARGO — The Langdon-Edmore-Munich baseball program won its first North Dakota Class B State Tournament as a co-op last season.
The Cardinals were powered by a decorated senior class of Class B Player of the Year Simon Romfo, his twin brother Grant Romfo and Cooper Zimmer, the championship game winning pitcher.
Despite those losses, Langdon-Edmore-Munich hasn't seen a big dropoff. The Cardinals take a 17-2 record into Thursday's state tournament, where No. 4 L-E-M opens against No. 5 Beulah at 6:15 p.m. at Newman Outdoor Field.
"We were pretty confident in the core of our group," Cardinals coach Josh Krivarchka said. "Obviously we knew we had to be patient with everything. This spring has inhibited us a little, and we are young with just one senior. We needed them to play and get experience on the field. As they've got on the field, they've become more confident.
The Cardinals rely on team speed and a wealth of all-around athletes. Junior catcher Carter Tetrault and junior third baseman Jack Romfo lead the way.
Tetrault is batting .535 with 34 runs out of the leadoff spot, while Romfo — a cousin to the Romfo twins of last season — is batting .444 with 22 runs batted in from the cleanup spot.
Krivarchka said the Cardinals' key will be good pitching.
"If we throw strikes and play good defense behind the pitching, I think we can find ways to score," he said.
North Star features young roster
North Star returns to the state tournament with a young roster that features no seniors and just one junior.
"Was it a surprise? No, not really," North Star coach Jesse Vote said. "This group won a state Babe Ruth title last summer."
North Star is 8-0 and has struggled to find time during this wet spring to even practice outdoors. The Bearcats spent much of the spring practicing in the Cando armory.
The Bearcats are led by the pitching of Dane Hagler, who's 3-0 with a 0.39 earned-run average. He has 33 strikeouts in just 17.2 innings pitched.
Offensively, North Star is led by junior Jack Ahlberg, who's hitting .652.
"They're steady baseball players," Vote said. "They pick each other up. When one is having a bad day, someone else steps up with a multi-hit game. We just have even balance."
Tommies ride pitching to state
Thompson reached the state tournament semifinals last season before bowing out to unbeaten and eventual state champion Langdon-Edmore-Munich.
And while the Cardinals return to state with a revamped roster, the Tommies come back with eight of their nine starters intact.
"We're playing better defense than last year and not making as many errors," said Thompson coach Nate Soulis, whose team is 17-1.
Thompson has two standout pitchers in senior left-hander Kyle Odenbach and senior Tyler Cunningham. Soulis said his third pitcher, senior Connor Welsh, wouldn't be a No. 3 pitcher on most staffs around the state.
Welsh and Cunningham are both 5-0, while Odenbach is 3-1. Odenbach has 37 strikeouts, while Cunninhgam has a 0.24 earned-run average.
"The difference-maker will be our sticks," Soulis said. "We need to consistently put together good at-bats and get guys on base. Everything else has to show up like it has this year, but I'm liking our pitching and defense."
N.D. Class B baseball tournament facts
Coach: Jesse Vote.
State matchup: Unseeded North Star vs. No. 2 Thompson, 10 a.m., Thursday, at Newman Outdoor Field in Fargo.
Top hitters: Jr. 2B Jack Ahlberg .652 batting average, soph. C Garrett Westlind .476, soph. SS Dane Hagler .458, soph. CF Zack Jorde .438, 7 2Bs, eighth-grader IF-OF Hunter Hagler .417, soph. IF Parker Simon .320, soph. OF Chas Bisbee .273, soph. IF-OF Karsen Simon .250, soph. 1B Brett Dilley .158.
Top pitchers: Dane Hagler 3-0, 0.39 earned-run average, 33 Ks, 17.2 IP; Zack Jorde 2-0, 1.56 ERA, 31 Ks, 18 IP; Parker Simon 2-0, 0.00 ERA, 15 Ks, 7.2 IP; Karsen Simon 1-0, 2.33 ERA, 10 Ks, 6 IP.
State tournament history: North Star has made the tournament each of the last three seasons it has been held (2020 was wiped out due to the pandemic).
Coach: Josh Krivarchka.
State matchup: No. 4 Langdon-Edmore-Munich vs. No. 5 Beulah, 6:15 p.m., Thursday, at Newman Outdoor Field in Fargo.
Top hitters: Jr. C Carter Tetrault .535, 34 runs, jr. OF Markus Kingzett .467, soph. 2B-C Mason Romfo .464, 12 2B, 22 RBI, jr. 3B Jack Romfo .444, 22 RBI, sr. OF Tucker Welsh .347, 3 HR, soph. 3B Parker Rime .316, soph. 1B Dawson Hein .300, jr. SS Brady Regner .294, eighth-grader 2B Theo Romfo .262, soph. 2B Kadyn Hein .320.
Top pitchers: Markus Kingzett 4-1, 0.56 ERA, 38 Ks, Tucker Welsh 3-0, 30 Ks, 4.06 ERA, Theo Romfo 4-0, 1.75 ERA, 21 Ks, Carter Tetrault 2-0, 22 Ks, 1.33 ERA, Dawson Hein 2-0, 2.00 ERA, 19 Ks, Jack Romfo 1-1, 2.03 ERA, 24 Ks.
State tournament history: The Cardinals are the defending state champions. Before entering a co-op with Edmore and Munich, Langdon went to one state tournament and lost in the title game in 2006. Edmore won back-to-back titles in 1980-81. Munich won back-to-back titles in 1991-92.
Coach: Nathan Soulis.
State matchup: No. 2 Thompson vs. unseeded North Star, 10 a.m., Thursday, at Newman Outdoor Field in Fargo.
Top hitters: Jr. C Reece Berberich .439, sr. 1B-DH Ryan Strande .408, soph. IF-OF Drew Overby .405, sr. SS Connor Welsh .365, jr. OF Shawn O’Hearn .333, fr. IF-OF Tom Schumacher .305, sr. 1B-OF Kyle Odenbach .294, sr. IF Tyler Cunningham .276, soph. OF Brody Gibson .250, soph. IF-C Brayden Wolfgram .238.
Top pitchers: Welsh 5-0, 1.02 ERA, 19 Ks; Cunningham 5-0, 0.24 ERA, 31 Ks; Odenbach 3-1, 1.29 ERA, 37 Ks; Berberich 3-0, 1.20 ERA, 13 Ks.
State tournament history: This will be Thompson’s 24th appearance at state dating back to 1975. The Tommies have been to six-straight state tournaments (minus 2020 COVID season). Thompson has five state titles (1983, 1985, 1999, 2005, 2016).