DICKINSON, N.D. – Throughout the entire North Dakota American Legion Class 2A state baseball tournament, Fargo Post 2 – which has a left-handed dominated batting lineup – hadn’t seen an opposing left-handed pitcher.
That was until Fargo Post 2 saw Mandan for the second time and the Chiefs had their ace Parker Harm.
Despite seeing its first left-handed pitcher, Fargo tagged Harm for five runs early and rode Tyler Anderson’s complete game to a 5-2 win over Mandan to win the state championship on Sunday at Southside Municipal Ballpark and Astoria Field.
“It’s a big momentum booster for us to score right away,” said Fargo first baseman Andrew Lein, who launched a two-run home run in the first inning. “Credit Harm, he’s a great pitcher, but we had to go up there and look for one pitch and try to do something with it. It was big getting ahead early that set the tone for us.”
Fargo head coach Luke Rustad knew Harm had the ability to become more dominant as the game progressed.
Post 2 piled on five runs on six hits in the first two innings. Carter Thompson supplied an RBI double in the first inning and followed with an RBI single in the second. Thompson finished 3-for-4 with two RBIs and scored a run. Andrew Penney – the state tournament MVP – supplied an RBI single in the second inning.
“I talked with my coaching staff that a quick start would be key in this game, because I feel that Parker is one of those kids that gets stronger as the game goes on,” Rustad said. “I was pleasantly surprised that we got five runs on them in the first two innings.”
Aside from the first two innings, Harm – who is signed to play baseball at North Dakota State – allowed just four hits over the next six frames. Mandan head coach Ryne Jungling said Harm and starting catcher Trever Leingang – who is signed to baseball at St. Cloud State (Minn.) – gave the team a chance to win.
“(Fargo) jumped on him early and then Parker changed his approach,” Jungling said. “Trever and Parker have been working together for a long time. I don’t call any pitches. They take care of everything. They took care of it after that. They made some adjustments that were really effective. To hold (Fargo) when we are down 5-0, that was huge and they gave us a chance. A 5-0 lead in these games often turns into 10-0 or 12-0. We had chances, but we just didn’t come out on top.”
The five-run lead was all Anderson needed. He pitched nine innings, allowed two runs on six hits, walked three and struck out six on 118 pitches.
Rustad wanted to give Anderson the opportunity to pitch the ninth, but it came with a warning. The Fargo head coach told Anderson if he walked anyone his time on the mound would be over. Anderson gave up a flare single to Mandan’s Garrett Murphy, but he got the next batter – Mason Schlosser – to ground into the game-ending double play.
“I figured after that (single) I would get us a ground ball and finish out this game,” Anderson said. “Whenever you have a game that you are throwing so well, you want to finish it. I just wanted be able to finish my own game.”
Fargo makes its third straight appearance to the Central Plains Regional Tournament, which begins Wednesday at Bismarck Municipal Park in Bismarck. Post 2 plays the South Dakota state champion at 4 p.m. Wednesday.
Post 2 hosted the CPR for the last two years and last won the state tournament in 2013. Anderson said the team has experience at the CPR, but it means to be the state champions entering the tournament.
Fargo won’t be the only North Dakota team at the tournament. Bismarck – the host team – plays the Nebraska runner-up in the final game of the first round at 7 p.m. Wednesday.
“Now that the Central Plains are going to be at a different place it will be a little bit different, because we aren’t the host team and we earned our way to be there,” Anderson said.
M 000 200 000–2 6 1
F 320 000 00x–5 10 1
Harm and Leingang. Anderson and Penney. W–Anderson. L–Harm. HR–F, Lein.