Home has been sweet for Post 2: Players turn attention to road with no more games in Fargo
Fargo Post 2 Legion baseball coach Bill Ibach said he thinks people wonder about him sometimes. Even at the tail end of a 22-game winning streak, his keel was customarily even. He spoke softly of how the streak was - of all the adjectives he coul...
Fargo Post 2 Legion baseball coach Bill Ibach said he thinks people wonder about him sometimes.
Even at the tail end of a 22-game winning streak, his keel was customarily even. He spoke softly of how the streak was - of all the adjectives he could muster - "neat."
"That's just the way I feel about it," he said. "I think we'll play a lot better if I don't get carried away."
But Ibach might have a reason to be cautiously optimistic about his team's performance. Standing 34-4 after the Moorhead Blues snapped his team's streak on Thursday, Post 2 had hardly played a road game.
Because Fargo's home, Jack Williams Stadium, will be altered to accommodate the International Softball Congress Men's World Fastball Tournament held Aug. 13-21 in the Fargo-Moorhead area, Post 2 loaded the first half of its schedule with home games.
Accordingly, the second leg of Thursday's doubleheader with the Blues was the last game Post 2 will play at home this season.
After playing almost the entire month of June at home, Post 2 will play nearly the entire month of July on the road, from Minneapolis to Minot, beginning today in Valley City.
And Ibach is, of course, not too worried and not too excited.
"I think it could help us, actually, because we don't have any tournament (games) here," he said. "I think playing on the road should help us."
Post 2 will play the Eastern Division Tournament in Grand Forks July 30-Aug. 1 and the Class A State Tournament in Dickinson Aug. 4-Aug. 8. Should the team venture further, it won't be within 400 miles of Jack Williams.
But even with the advantages playing at home entails, the team has something to be proud of this season, and even Ibach will admit that.
He said he doesn't think the team is much different than it has been in past years, but they've put it together and gotten some breaks to go their way.
After Moorhead swept Post 2 on June 16, Fargo ran off 22 straight wins, including the God Bless America Tournament and F-M Invitational titles. Moorhead beat Post 2 4-1 in the first leg of Thursday's doubleheader before Fargo rebounded to take a 6-2 win in game two.
"Going into the year, I knew we'd be a good team, but I didn't think we'd have only three losses halfway through the season," center fielder Doug Sylvester said before Thursday's split.
"We've won games even when we haven't played our best."
Playing their best requires a few improvements, according to their coach. And despite the gaudy offensive and pitching numbers, consistency is the key.
Ibach said he wishes his team would hit the ball well more consistently than it has been. But he likes the top portion of his lineup made up of a foursome of left-handed hitters - Sylvester, Brandon Cattanach, Nate Pederson and Aaron Seelig - all of whom are hitting over .350.
As for pitching, he said it's been "fantastic" for the most part, but his hurlers will tend to lapse into walking opposing batters and letting opponents back in the game.
Brett Gustafson leads all pitchers with five wins and a 0.75 ERA and Seelig is 4-0 with a 0.93 ERA. Both Steve Hirchert and Casey Bovkoon have tossed no-hitters.
So, just like with anything in life, they can improve despite their success. That is the mentality Ibach is trying to pass on to his players.
It seems to be working.
"A lot of guys have stepped up, and we're playing well together," Gustafson said. "There's a lot of team chemistry."
"Some days are better than others."
Readers can reach Forum reporter Aaron Blake at (701) 235-7311