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Whiskey Jacks rally, win with walk-off in 10th inning

Ethan Sitzman drives in winning run as Wheat City improves to 2-0 at Kraft Field.

053021 S GFH WHISKEYJACKS AdonisForteII KeenanOBrien01.jpg
Whiskey Jacks catcher Keenan O'Brien tags out diving Sunfish runner Adonis Forte II (4) at home plate during an Expedition League baseball game at Kraft Field on Saturday, May 29, 2021. Nick Nelson / Grand Forks Herald

Ethan Sitzman was being chased by his Wheat City Whiskey Jacks teammates, a couple jugs of ice water, a unicorn head and a Tyrannosaurs rex head.

Sitzman nearly reached second base at Kraft Field when they finally caught up to him, dumped the ice cubes and water on top of his head, while they laughed and cheered.

It may have been a 52-degree, dreary, drizzling day with winds gusting to 20 mph in Grand Forks, but the Whiskey Jacks weren't going to miss out on a little bit of fun after rallying from a seventh-inning deficit and beating the Sioux Falls Sunfish 5-4 in 10 innings on Saturday night.

Sitzman drove in the winning run on a sacrifice fly to center field, giving the Whiskey Jacks (3-2) their second-straight win in their temporary home for this summer.

"It felt good," Sitzman said of the ice bath after the game. "The blood was running a little bit. I felt warm. I'm sure when I get back in the locker room, settle down a little bit and the adrenaline stops, I think I'll be a little colder."

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As for the unicorn and T-Rex heads?

The unicorn head was given to the team by the daughter of a host family. The T-Rex head was a Target purchase by some Whiskey Jacks players.

"We've been riding the good-luck charm," Sitzman said. "We're 2-0 with them, so we might as well keep it going."

The Whiskey Jacks, who received three scoreless innings from starter Jake Anderson, also got a clutch pitching performance by Sam Marhefke, who tossed a scoreless eighth, ninth and 10th.

In extra innings, Expedition League teams start with a runner at second base. The Whiskey Jacks used a pinch runner at second, Griffin Shearon, who plays college baseball at Minot State.

Wheat City then pinch hit Cameron Daigle, who was a late scratch from the starting lineup due to an arm injury.

"His arm was hanging, but I thought to bunt, it doesn't matter," Whiskey Jacks manager Robbie Laughlin said. "I went down to the end of the bench and asked him what he thought of it. He said, 'Coach, if there's one thing on the field for baseball that I could do, I can definitely get a bunt down for you.'"

Daigle did successfully advance Shearon to third. Then, the speedy pitcher from Highlands Ranch, Colo., scored on Sitzman's fly ball to center field.

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"It couldn't have been done without Cam," Sitzman said. "If he doesn't lay that bunt down, then we're not even in that situation and that's just a routine fly out. Credit to Griffin, another Colorado boy. He runs well. It was super fun and it's an awesome atmosphere out here."

The Whiskey Jacks will play at Kraft Field again June 1-3. That is a change from the team's original schedule.

"That was a great game from the start," Laughlin said. "We didn't have it going with the bats early in the game, as the scoreboard showed, and they outhit us 13-6, but luckily enough, we won the free-base war."

That was the case at the end. The Whiskey Jacks scored the winning run without a hit, using a sacrifice bunt and a sacrifice fly.

"Ethan asked me if he got up to bat with a runner on third if I wanted him to squeeze (bunt)," Laughlin said. "I said, 'No way, man. I want you to swing it and walk us off right.' That was just a great job by Ethan. He's been really phenomenal for us in these first five games. I have a lot of faith in him."

Related Topics: BASEBALL
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