MANDAN, N.D. — The West Fargo Sheyenne baseball team left no doubt that the Mustangs deserved to be state champions.
The Mustangs finished the title game early, beating Fargo Shanley 11-1 in five innings to win the North Dakota Class A state baseball championship on Saturday at Mandan’s Veterans Memorial Field.
It’s the first state championship for the Mustangs baseball program and the first for any West Fargo Sheyenne boys team.
“It’s a great feeling. Knowing all the things that Sheyenne has gone through in state tournaments in the past,” said pitcher Lance Oster, who got the win for the Mustangs. “It feels really great to finally pull one off.”
It was the fourth meeting between Sheyenne and Shanley. The Deacons had won each of the previous three meetings, including last weekend’s East Region championship, but the Mustangs came out ahead with authority in the biggest spot.
“Obviously, we won the most important game,” said Cooper Borchardt, who was 2-for-3 with a walk, a run and four RBIs. “We were never able to put it together with the offense those first three games and put some runs on the board. But we did that in this game so that feels great.”
The Mustangs blew the game open with an eight-run third inning. They scored all eight runs and batted around the order before the first out. They finished the inning with nine hits.
Sheyenne’s Abe Hestdalen doubled off the wall in left-center to lead off the top of the third. Nolan Dodds followed that up with a single to shallow left to move him to third. Quade Peters drove in Hestdalen after Hestdalen reached third with a single up the middle to tie it up at 1.
Oster brought in Dodds with a grounder to short. The shortstop came up throwing home and his throw beat the runner, but the ball popped out of the catcher’s glove.
Alex Urlaub bunted for a hit to load the bases and Borchardt singled to left to drive in Peters and Oster. After a Brennan Haman single, Tate Gustafson cleared the bases with a three-run double to plate Urlaub, Borchardt and Haman. Evan Berg drove in the final run of the inning with a double to score Gustafson and put Sheyenne ahead 8-1.
“Once two or three people get hits, it feels like everyone’s hitting,” Borchardt said. “It feels great to go through it with no outs. Once one person starts hitting, so does everyone.”
The Deacons threatened to answer in the bottom of the third, but Oster escaped a bases-loaded jam. He gave up a single to Shanley’s Ben Ostlie, and walked Adam Leininger and Tommy Simon. But the senior pitcher dug down and struck out the sixth batter of the inning to keep the momentum with the Mustangs.
“To get them out with no runs there, that’s a huge turning point in the game for us,” Sheyenne coach Ryan Bodell said. “And it got us back on the sticks again to keep it going.”
The Mustangs came back with three more in the top of the fifth to pull ahead by 10 runs at 11-1 and put them in position to win early.
Hestdalen led it off with his second double and Peters drove in his pinch runner, Jack Newhouse, with a single up the middle. Alex Urlaub singled and stole a base to put the potential game-winning runs in scoring position.
Borchardt knocked a single into right field to score them and the Mustangs had all the runs they needed. Oster kept the Deacons off the board in the bottom of the fifth and it was all over.
“That definitely crosses your mind (to try getting ahead by 10 runs), but I’m still just trying to do my job and get the guy in and get the next guy up,” Borchardt said. “Keep it rolling.”
“(Borchardt) is in the four hole for us for a reason,” Bodell said. “He’s got some power there, he’s got some pop in his bat. You get guys on in front of him and he does a good job hitting them in.”
Oster allowed the Deacons first batter, Tommy Simon, to score in the first inning and didn’t let another runner across. He gave up two hits and struck out one with five walks in his four innings. Parker Oien pitched the fifth inning for the Mustangs, allowing one hit and no runs. Ben Ostlie had all three of Shanley's hits.
“(Oster) hasn’t started in a while for us,” Bodell said. “But he was one of the main guys two years ago as a sophomore and we knew he was ready for big games. So we went with him and he threw extremely well for us and kept them off-balance all game. He really was effective.”
West Fargo Sheyenne — 0 0 8 0 3 — 11 16 0
Fargo Shanley — 1 0 0 0 0 — 1 3 1
2021 NDHSCA Senior Athlete of the Year: Chase Burke, Minot
2021 NDHSAA Coach of the Year: Edward Streeter, Bismarck Legacy