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Despite loss to Minot, Fargo Post 2 to play for state championship

WILLISTON, N.D.-Minot wasn't ready to head home just yet.The Vistas took down the previously unbeaten Fargo Post 2 10-8 on Saturday, avenging a 2-1 loss earlier in the tournament and sending them to championship Sunday."We didn't want to quit," s...

Jimmy Reynolds of Fargo Post 2 slides home safely ahead of the tag by Minot catcher Creighton Rudolph on Saturday during the North Dakota Class AA American Legion State Baseball Tournament at Ardean Aafedt Stadium. Parker Cotton / Forum News Service
Jimmy Reynolds of Fargo Post 2 slides home safely ahead of the tag by Minot catcher Creighton Rudolph on Saturday during the North Dakota Class AA American Legion State Baseball Tournament at Ardean Aafedt Stadium. Parker Cotton / Forum News Service

WILLISTON, N.D.-Minot wasn't ready to head home just yet.

The Vistas took down the previously unbeaten Fargo Post 2 10-8 on Saturday, avenging a 2-1 loss earlier in the tournament and sending them to championship Sunday.

"We didn't want to quit," said Minot leftfielder Lofton Klabunde, who broke the game open in the fourth inning with a grand slam. "We wanted to give a fight. We were close the first time we played them, couldn't pull it off, but this time we came out and hit the ball and got things done."

Minot, the sixth seed, advances to face top-seeded West Fargo-a 9-8 winner over Mandan earlier on Saturday-at noon Sunday. The winner will face Fargo Post 2, the No. 2 seed, for the state championship.

"We're the sixth seed. Do we think we should have played that way in the regular season? No, but we did," Vistas head coach Pat Arntson said. "So when you see Fargo just hung 21 on West Fargo (on Friday), the guys think, 'We don't have anything to lose. Nobody thinks we're supposed to be here.'"

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If Post 2 had won, it would have faced the Patriots at noon Sunday, and West Fargo would have had to beat Post 2 twice to win the state title. Fargo head coach Luke Rustad said he didn't like his team's attitude during Saturday's contest, making their Sunday more difficult.

"I thought our whole mentality wasn't where it needed to be," Rustad said. "We acted like front-runners, and if we want to become champions or whatever, we have to fix our attitude. It wasn't good."

Two Minot errors in the first inning allowed Fargo to take an early lead, with Luke Sandy and Cam Blazek registering RBI hits. In the bottom half, Minot took the lead with Klabunde's RBI single and Johnny Tubbs' two-run home run.

Fargo tied it 3-3 in the fourth inning after Taylor Parrett was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded.

Minot retook the lead in the bottom of the fourth on the strength of a bases-loaded walk to Creighton Rudolph and a grand slam from Klabunde.

"Leaving runners on base is a tough thing," Klabunde said. "I was just trying to get a nice, easy swing and knock maybe one in, but four is better."

Fargo fought back with an RBI double from Jimmy Reynolds and an RBI single from Ben Bryant, making it 8-6 after five innings.

A solo home run from Blazek made it 8-7 in the sixth, but Minot's Derek Bartsch and Tubbs supplied a sacrifice fly and a run-scoring single, respectively, to give the Vistas 10 runs for the game.

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Fargo added an eighth run in the seventh as Brandt Kolpack scored on a passed ball with the bases loaded. Blazek struck out to end the threat, however, and was ejected for arguing about the strike zone.

It was originally thought that Blazek would be ineligible to participate on Sunday because of the ejection, but Rustad said following the game that the tournament manager and umpires reinstated him, reasoning that he was given the hook too quickly.

Rustad said earlier in the week that Blazek would be the team's pitcher for any games on Sunday if it indeed got that far. Well, now the team is that far. Does he still get the ball?

"We'll see," Rustad said. "Obviously, in a perfect world, but heck, we'll find out."

F 200 131 100 - 8 11 1

M 300 502 00X - 10 12 5

F: Justin Dekeyser (3.2), Jonas Sanders (4.1) and Cole Birch. M: Easton Bennett (4.2), Eli Stewart (5.0) and Creighton Rudolph.

W-Bennett. L-Dekeyser. HR-F, Cam Blazek; M, Lofton Klabunde, Johnny Tubbs.

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Highlights: F, Ben Bryant 5-6, 1 R, 1 RBI; Cam Blazek 2-5, HR, 1 R, 2 RBI; Luke Sandy 1-5, 1 R, 1 RBI; Johnny Brooks 1-4, 1 R, 1 RBI; Jimmy Reynolds 1-3, 1 R, 1 RBI. M, Lofton Klabunde 3-4, HR, 1 R, 5 RBI; Johnny Tubbs 2-4, HR, 1 R, 3 RBI; Conor Taney 2-4, 1 R; Easton Bennett 2-4, 2 R; 4 2/3 IP, 8 H, 6 R (3 ER), 2 K, 2 BB.

Jimmy Reynolds of Fargo Post 2 slides home safely ahead of the tag by Minot catcher Creighton Rudolph on Saturday during the North Dakota Class AA American Legion State Baseball Tournament at Ardean Aafedt Stadium. Parker Cotton / Forum News Service
Jon Brooks of Fargo Post 2 swings at a pitch against Minot on Saturday during the North Dakota Class AA American Legion State Baseball Tournament at Ardean Aafedt Stadium. Parker Cotton / Forum News Service

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