SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — Following Fargo Post 2’s first-round loss in the Central Plains Regional American Legion baseball tournament on Wednesday, coach Luke Rustad said in order for his team to turn things around in the losers' bracket, that it would need a better pitching performance.
Thursday against Sioux Falls Post 15 West, Post 2 got it.
Fargo cruised past Sioux Falls 13-1 in a shortened game due to the mercy-run rule. As Fargo pounded out 10 hits, Post 2 pitcher Taylor Parrett was dealing from the mound. The right-hander pitched four complete innings, giving up one hit and retiring 12 of the last 13 batters he faced.
"Knowing we had him out there today, I felt pretty confident. But at a regional tournament, anything can happen," Rustad said. "He’s pretty dang good and we got it from him today."
Parrett’s only hit was the first batter of the game, a single to the outfield.
"In a game like this when it’s a winner-take-all, and you give up a leadoff hit, you don’t really know what to think. I was like, 'Man this could be a long game,'" Parrett said. "But I was able to get back in the zone, settle down a little bit and get guys out.”
Parrett was relieved in the top of the fifth by Austin Manuel after he hit the 59-pitch threshold. Due to Legion baseball pitching rules, he won’t be available to pitch again until Sunday’s championship round, should Fargo make it that far.
"I felt really good all day. I was able to command my fast ball as good as I have been all year," Parrett said. "Wherever my catcher put his mitt, I feel like I was able to hit that spot today."
With Parrett holding Sioux Falls batters in check, Fargo used a seven-run second inning to blow things open. It was the bottom third of the lineup that got things going for Post 2, as Drew Sandy singled and Chandler Ibach and Caden Headlee both doubled. Zach Sandy then rifled a comebacker to the mound that ripped the glove off of Sioux Falls pitcher John Rogers. Rogers was able to recover and attempt a throw to first base, but Sandy beat the throw and Fargo opened a 4-0 lead following the RBI hit.
But the big blow came three batters later. After building the four-run cushion, Brayden Koenig hit a bases-clearing double to increase the lead to 7-0 and Fargo cruised from there. Post 2 registered five hits in the inning.
"That was huge. Even with that four-run lead, I wasn’t comfortable. But then to find that hole and clear the bases and increase it to seven is just huge," Rustad said. "We’ve had a lot of opportunities this postseason to extend the lead and we haven’t. It was nice to cash that in today and create that separation."
Fargo added six more runs in the fourth inning to increase the lead to 13-0.
Zach Sandy, Koenig and Drew Sandy each had two hits for Post 2. For the tournament, leadoff hitter Zach Sandy is now 6-for-8 from the plate. As a team, Fargo is 23-for-60 (.383) from the plate and will now face Oshkosh (Wis.) at 12:30 p.m. Friday.
"I feel good. We have good bats, but again, it’s going to take good pitching and good defense," Rustad said. "If we can continue to perform on that side of things, I think we’ll have a chance because I really like our offense."