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Streaking Wahpeton, Carrington Legion teams meet for regional berth

JAMESTOWN, N.D. – There was little doubt Sunday in Langdon or Wahpeton about which teams were the hottest Class B and Class A American Legion clubs in the state.

Carrington (26-11) capped a dominating run to the B title with an 18-6 win over Thompson, while Wahpeton doubled up Velva 4-2 for the 1A crown as both teams posted perfect 5-0 records.

Normally, winning a state American Legion tournament means a trip to the Central Plains Regional Tournament. But with North Dakota going to a three-class system this season, it means Carrington and Wahpeton remain one win away.

That will be decided tonight at John Randall Field as the two streaking teams play at 6 p.m. with the winner heading to Milbank, S.D., next week for the Division II Central Plains Regional.

It’s a tall order and quick turnaround for Carrington, but after outscoring its five opponents 37-9 last week in Langdon, they’re heading in hot.

“I don’t think there was much doubt based on who we played and how we won that we were the best team in that tournament,” Carrington coach Tim Ranum said. “Our players deserve all the credit. They played really well through the course of the week and it was fun to watch.”

Wahpeton was equally dominant on its home field, allowing just four runs total in five games while averaging 6.8 runs per game.

“They obviously played extremely well,” Ranum said of Wahpeton. “We know this is going to be a challenge, but with the way we’re playing right now I know our guys are excited about it.”

Brady Smith will start on the mound for Carrington. Smith hasn’t pitched since Thursday, so he’s the freshest arm in the deep Carrington stable.

“We have a lot of confidence in Brady, but if it weren’t to start off so well we’ll try to patch it together,” Ranum said. “We’re going to throw the kitchen sink at them. We don’t really have a tomorrow to worry about, so we’ll do whatever’s necessary to give ourselves the best chance.”

Logan Clifton is coming off a big weekend pitching-wise. Clifton won more games (3) in the tournament than he won during the season (2). Clifton fired a shutout to beat Thompson on Friday, two days after Patrick Freeman blanked Langdon. Marcus Hewitt also turned in a complete-game gem Saturday against Enderlin.

“We had three shutouts in five games. That’s not something you anticipate going into any tournament,” Ranum said.

The offense really kicked it into gear as well with 27 runs combined in their final two games.

“It seemed like we were getting contributions from everybody,” Ranum said. “It wasn’t just the top of the lineup or the bottom, it was everybody.”

Carrington and Wahpeton’s paths did not cross during the season, but the David/Goliath scenario would seem to apply for obvious reasons. Still, given Carrington’s torrid postseason anything seems possible.

“This is a great opportunity for our guys to go out and prove they’re one of the best teams in the state,” Ranum said. “It’s been a heckuva ride. It kinda feels like we’re playing bonus baseball, so hopefully we go out and enjoy every moment.”