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Carrington captures B title

LANGDON, N.D. – When it took the No. 3 seed into the Central Section tournament, Carrington entered the American Legion postseason with guarded optimism.

“Everybody in our section was pretty good,” Carrington pitcher-infielder Pat Freeman said. “We felt we had a good shot at getting to state. We just had to play good baseball.

“I didn’t know if we’d be able to win state.”

But Carrington capped a perfect postseason run Sunday by out-slugging Thompson 18-6 in the championship game of the North Dakota Class B American Legion baseball tournament.

The title was the first for Carrington since 2001. Thompson came up short in its bid for its first Legion state title since 2002.

Carrington went 5-0 at the state tournament after taking its section title with four straight wins.

“Some days (this summer) we’ve played bad baseball,” said Freeman, who was named the state tournament MVP. “But we played good baseball here, a higher level than I thought we would. It’s the best baseball I’ve ever been a part of.”

The title game was a different style for Carrington. It won its first four games at state with defense and pitching. It registered three shutouts and held teams to three runs (two earned) in 29 innings. In the final, however, Carrington capped its title run on the strength of hitting and big innings.

Carrington totaled 20 hits to Thompson’s 14. Freeman had four hits, scoring three runs and driving in two, to lead the Carrington offense. Easton Paeper, Connor Wendel and Brady Smith added three hits apiece, with Smith scoring four and driving home three.

“We knew that if we played well, we had a chance of winning state,” Carrington coach Tim Ranum said. “I didn’t know if we’d pitch as well today as we have been. The sticks came through. That’s probably the highest (hit) total we’ve had all year.”

Carrington scored four in the top of the first inning, only to see Thompson answer with a six-run second.

After scoring one in the third, Carrington took the lead for good with five in the fourth inning highlighted by Smith’s 2-run single to right field. Austin Hewitt (bases-loaded walk), Marcus Hewitt (sacrifice fly) and Alex Jarrett (single) also drove in runs in the outburst.

Carrington wrapped up the title when it sent 10 batters to the plate and scored four runs in both the sixth and seventh innings.

“When we got the lead back in the fourth, we got some momentum,” Ranum said. “It was like a heavyweight boxing fight to that point. Then we got that one big punch. And Logan (Clifton) was humming. He was throwing strikes and settled things down.”

Clifton came on in relief of Freeman and pitched four innings of shutout ball to pick up his third win of the tournament. Brandon Walsh took the loss.

“We were excited to get that 6-spot (in the second inning),” Thompson coach Brady Schwab said. “But you figured you needed more runs.

“You get to this point in a five-day tournament and teams have used a lot of pitching arms. You expect some runs. Maybe not as many as this, but you expect a lot of runs.”

All nine Carrington starters scored at least one run; eight of the nine had at least one hit.

“Usually, the team that gets hot at the right time is the team that wins,” Schwab said. “And they got really hot.”

C 401 504 4–18 20 2

T 060 000 0–6 14 4

W–Clifton. L–Walsh.