SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — Fargo Post 2 stayed alive in the American Legion Central Plains regional baseball tournament on Saturday by scoring on an error in the bottom of the seventh inning.
Cole Hage scored when Appleton, Wis., tried to turn a double play to end the inning and extend the game into extra innings. But after the force out at second base, Appleton shortstop Bubba Thompson overthrew first base and Hage scored on the errant throw to give Fargo a 3-2 victory.
Hage was rounding third when the ball sailed over the first baseman's head. Post 2 head coach Luke Rustad was in the third base coaching box and jumped at the opportunity to score.
"We both reacted like 'Go, go, go,'" Hage said. "I saw the ball hit the dugout and I knew it was time to go."
WATCH | @fargo_post2 rides a CG gem by Blake Anderson and takes advantage of a defensive miscue to top @ALPOST38 3-2 and advance to Championship Sunday at the #CentralPlains Regional on the #RoadToShelby pic.twitter.com/93xo9Vqqi5
WATCH | @fargo_post2 rides a CG gem by Blake Anderson and takes advantage of a defensive miscue to top @ALPOST38 3-2 and advance to Championship Sunday at the #CentralPlains Regional on the #RoadToShelby pic.twitter.com/93xo9Vqqi5— Central Plains 2019 and 2020 (Sioux Falls, SD) (@CentralPlains19) August 10, 2019
Post 2 will now play Excelsior, Minn., at 12:30 p.m. Sunday for the regional championship. Post 2 needs to defeat Excelsior two times to advance to the American Legion World Series, which is set to start Aug. 15 in Shelby, N.C. Excelsior is undefeated in the tournament and defeated Post 2 in the opening round.
Hage opened the seventh inning Saturday with a single that snuck through the infield between the first and second basemen. He later advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by Brayden Koenig.
"You put the ball in play and sometimes good things happen," Rustad said. "We were fortunate to come out with a win just by putting it in play."
In their first three games of the tournament, Fargo's offense was clicking, scoring 35 runs on 37 hits. But against Appleton, it was a defensive struggle throughout.
Fargo sent Blake Anderson to the mound, and he responded with a complete, seven-hit game. It was a strong outing considering his last time out for Post 2. In Fargo's opening game of the tournament, a 17-11 loss to Excelsior, the North Dakota State pitching recruit lasted one inning, giving up six hits and nine earned runs.
"I was a little nervous going out there today just thinking about how bad the first outing was," Anderson said. "I haven't been that bad in a long, long time. So just to come out and do what I did today, it was special."
But for as good as Anderson was striking out five and walking just one batter in 76 pitches against Appleton, he got some monster help from his defense throughout the game.
With Appleton leading 1-0 after scoring in the first inning, it looked to possibly make things very difficult on Fargo in the second. But a defensive gem kept Post 2 in the game. With the bases loaded and one out, second baseman Brandt Kolpack, shortstop Zachary Kluvers and Koenig at first base combined on a 4-6-3 double play to end the threat.
That same trio pulled off another double play the following inning, and Fargo held a slim 2-1 lead after scoring twice in the bottom of the second after hits from Taylor Parrett, Kolpack and Drew Sandy.
"Those double plays were huge. We made them look like they should look. It got us out of jams, and it kept his pitch count down because of it," Rustad said. "That's all you can ask of your pitcher, to hit ground balls and hopefully the defense does what you coach them to do."
Appleton scored in the sixth inning to tie it at 2-2 before the late-game heroics from Hage that sealed the win. Hage was 3-for-3 from the plate. Cadeen Headlee was 2-for-3 with an RBI.