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Shanley rallies to beat Williston in Class A state baseball opener

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Fargo Shanley's Jace Dew (8) scores what proved to be the game-winning run over Williston during Thursday's North Dakota Class A state baseball tournament in Minot. Justin Martinez / Minot Daily News

MINOT, N.D. - It was now or never for the Shanley Deacons.

East Region No. 4-seeded Shanley spent the entire game playing from behind in its opening-round Class A state baseball tournament game against West Region No. 1-seeded Williston. The Coyotes jumped out to a 3-1 lead in the bottom of the second inning and played some stellar defense the next four innings to preserve the score.

In the top of the seventh inning, the Deacons were just three outs away from seeing their hopes of a state title vanish. Shanley head coach Lucas Rustad rallied the troops.

“If you have a pulse, there’s always a chance,” Rustad said. “I just told the kids, ‘Don’t get discouraged and keep hitting.’”

The first run for the Deacons came free of charge when an error allowed junior Brayden Altringer to come home and make it a 3-2 contest. Now with the bases loaded and two outs, Brayden Koenig stepped up to the plate.

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The senior got a pitch from Williston’s Charlie Whitlock and connected with a shot up the middle. The ball zipped past the outstretched glove of a diving Reed Hanson and bled into the outfield. That allowed two runs to score and gave the Deacons a 4-3 lead.

“It was awesome,” Koenig said. “You can’t really describe that feeling. I just got fired up on first (base). It’s unexplainable, honestly.”

None other than Koenig sealed the deal from the mound in the bottom of the seventh. Just three pitches away from reaching the daily limit for a pitcher, the senior got the final out to secure the Deacons’ 4-3 victory.

Koenig finished with two RBIs on 1-for-3 hitting, while sophomore Dylan Erholtz tallied one RBI on 1-for-2 hitting in the win.

Shanley will face Century today at 7 p.m. with a trip to the state championship on the line.

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