GRAND FORKS - As soon as Grand Forks Central’s regular season baseball schedule ended, Knights coach Tim Gregoire said his No. 1-ranked team didn’t receive an easy first-round draw in the East Region tournament.
Gregoire already knew his team was looking at facing Fargo North ace Blake Anderson, one of the state’s top throwers who has signed to pitch at North Dakota State.
So perhaps it was no surprise the No. 8 seed Spartans gave No. 1 Central all it could handle Tuesday night at Kraft Field.
Anderson didn't pick up the official pitching win but his eight strong innings carried the Spartans to a 6-1 upset of the Knights in a 10-inning game.
"We need a short memory," Gregoire said. "This one is over and done with. We need to win two games Friday and Saturday. (Anderson) threw strikes and didn't waste any pitches. He mixed things up really well."
Central (9-2 in the EDC, 12-5 overall) now plays the loser of Fargo Davies and Devils Lake at 11 a.m. Friday in a loser-out game in Devils Lake. The Spartans (5-6 EDC, 11-10 overall) play the winner of Davies-DL in a state qualifier at 4 p.m.
Anderson, who struck out 10, and Central starter Zach Vodden, who struck out 11, matched each other pitch for pitch through eight innings. Vodden was lifted in the eighth and Anderson in the ninth due to pitch count restrictions.
Despite throwing into extra innings, Anderson said his arm wasn't sore late in the game. He held a previously powerful Knights offense to five hits -- three of which went to Central cleanup hitter Joey Grabanski.
"Usually in our games, I get better as the game goes on," Anderson said. "I usually come out tight. By the fifth inning, I feel like that's where I'm at my best."
North exploded for five runs in the 10th after Vodden was forced to come out. Fargo North's Jack Dorsher singled to left field to score two runs with one out in the 10th to break through against the Knights and give the Spartans a 3-1 advantage.
The game was nearly over earlier with both teams having a shot to end it.
With a drawn-in infield, Central shortstop Dalton Koland pegged a North runner at the plate to zap a threat in the top of the eighth.
Then in the bottom of the eighth, Grabanski tripled to right field with two outs. Koland followed with a liner to second base, where Spartan Dan Boutain snared the would-be single at the top of his leap.
"We played pretty well today and Blake threw well and gave us a chance to win," North coach Jeff Fiechtner said. "Exciting stuff. We survived. Our second baseman made a great catch for us otherwise they win. It was a good game, and we ended up on the right side."
Fargo North 6,
GF Central 1
FNO 001 000 000 5-- 6 10 0
GFC 010 000 000 0 -- 1 4 0
WP -- Payton Reed; LP -- Parker Stroh
Highlights -- FN: Blake Anderson 2x4, Caden Headlee 3x4, 2B, 3B, Jack Dorsher 1x1, 2 RBI; GFC: Joey Grabanski 3x4, 3B