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Central Cass has shown poise as it enters state tournament

Central Cass was three outs away from having its baseball season end last Friday, but head coach Justin Fletschock didn't sense panic in his team. "I just didn't think we were that uptight," said Fletschock. "It was really pretty calm." Central C...

Central Cass was three outs away from having its baseball season end last Friday, but head coach Justin Fletschock didn't sense panic in his team.

"I just didn't think we were that uptight," said Fletschock. "It was really pretty calm."

Central Cass rallied for five runs in the top of the seventh inning to edge Enderlin-Maple Valley, 8-6, in the third and deciding game of the Region 1 championship series.

"That's going back to where these kids are just relaxed," Fletschock said.

Central Cass (13-8) plays Grafton (17-6) at 11:30 a.m. Thursday in the first round of the North Dakota Class B state baseball tournament in Mandan.

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This group of Squirrels is no stranger to the big stage. Many of the players on the team played on the 2008 Class B American Legion state title team and the 2007 Class B Babe Ruth state championship team.

"I think the experience helps the most, dealing with all the pressure and stuff like that," Central Cass senior Beau Sinner said. "After being in state a few times, I guess you're a little bit more relaxed."

Enderlin-Maple Valley held a 6-3 lead against the Squirrels heading into the seventh inning of the deciding game at Region 1.

No. 7 hitter, junior Mike Rose, cracked a dramatic two-out, three-run home run that gave the Squirrels the lead.

"It was pretty exciting," said Fletschock, whose team last made the state tournament in 2004. "I think it helps that these guys have played in big games and hopefully we can get going from the start."

Sinner and fellow senior Brandon Rust, both righties, lead the Central Cass pitching staff, which has a 1.63 team ERA.

Sinner is 3-2 with a 0.58 ERA in 36 innings. The 6-foot-4 Sinner, who will start against Grafton, has 46 strikeouts against 10 walks and a 0.75 WHIP.

Rust, who was named Region 1 senior athlete of the year, is 3-1 with a 0.65 ERA. He has struck out 40 and walked nine in 21Xc innings with a 1.06 WHIP. Rust is also a key part of the Central Cass offense, batting .362 with seven doubles, three triples, one home run and 18 RBIs through 21 games.

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Junior third baseman Sam Schumacher, who throws right and bats left, is the team's No. 3 pitcher and is second on the team with 16 RBIs.

"It's definitely the most experience team I have coached," said Fletschock, a former North Dakota State and Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks standout. "I really just kind of sit back and watch them play."

Readers can reach Forum reporter Eric Peterson at (701) 241-5513.

Peterson's blogs can be found at www.areavoices.com

Related Topics: BASEBALLCASSELTON
Peterson covers college athletics for The Forum, including Concordia College and Minnesota State Moorhead. He also covers the Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks independent baseball team and helps out with North Dakota State football coverage. Peterson has been working at the newspaper since 1996.
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