Fargo 61's head to 13U Little League World Series after capturing Midwest Plains Regionals

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Aug. 1—DICKINSON — After coming up on top in the state tourney, Fargo 61's Blue would go on to be crowned the 2022 Babe Ruth 13U Midwest Plains Regional champions on the last day of July. The team, coaches and fans took to the field for photos and basked in the moment leading to the World Series.

Sunday was a day of baseball in Dickinson, with four teams surviving pool play and competing in a single elimination tournament. The teams included the host team and North Dakota state champions in Dickinson, and the state champions for both Minnesota and South Dakota.

Dickinson and Fargo met for a final time this season to start the day with Fargo as the "home team," and the highest seed, having gone undefeated leading into the final days.

It was a 9-2 game that saw Fargo take a decisive 2-0 lead in the first inning with their lead-off hitter Caden Nelson crossing the plate. Nelson went four-for-four in the batter's box and earned two runs and an RBI. Fargo's largest scoring inning came at the bottom of the sixth with five runs, coming off two singles and a double.

Runs accumulated with no response until the final frame of game, Dickinson was behind 9-0, but wouldn't go down without swinging.

Damien Freeburg scored after an initial hit by pitch, wearing it proudly as he stole home plate off a wild pitch. Then Aaron Olson's single would credit him an RBI for the final run of the game.

"I told them that I can't imagine it going any better than what they did," Reese Mack, Dickinson's head coach, said. "The one thing I noticed about these guys by the end of the season is that they never rolled over to anybody no matter who they were. With Fargo, yeah we got beat by them three times this year, but we never rolled over and the effort was alway there... Dickinson is a baseball town and everyone knows what we are

Meeting Fargo in the championship game would be the Minnesota state title holder, Brainerd/Baxter Warriors, who defeated Rapid City Sliders in a narrow 2-1 ballgame for their semi-final game.

Blue took a 3-0 lead in the first inning and would never look back — but that isn't to say that the Warriors didn't give them a scare.

At the top of the sixth inning the scoreboard read 5-1, and with the Brainerd/Baxter having a chance to rally with base loaded, Fargo tapped the ole wrist to switch out their starting pitcher Payton Spitzer for first baseman Ben Sheets — Sheets would blanket the Minnesota team delivering back-to-back strikeouts.

After a line out ended the top frame, so too did the Warriors hopes of a tying run. A 5-4 ground out would be the final putout of the game and the Fargo team rushed the mound and piled on top of the pitcher with their victory in hand.

"The boys worked really hard. They had a lot of talent right away coming into the year, but that didn't stop them from working hard at practice," Jimmy Reynolds, Fargo head coach, said. "45-6 on the season, you can't ask for much more and it's been a fun year... It's surreal. Last year we were kind of one inning short of going to a world series in my opinion and this year we got the job done. It was good to see the boys finally crack through and get to that world series."

Reynolds only spent the last day at the tournament, who was previously with his wife at the hospital to witness the birth of his child. When asked what was better, getting to the world series or having the baby, he said that the world series was a close second.

After all was said and done awards were handed out and a big appreciation was given to the staff of umpires, as well as to the Dickinson Park and Recreation for their time and effort in hosting a phenomenal tri-state championship tournament.

Sheets would garner the Player of the Game accolade for his save and Nelson would be named the tournaments Most Valuable Player. Waite Park, out of Minnesota, was the recipient of the Norm and Colleen Travis Sportsmanship Award.

"A lot of time was put in between our staff and volunteers that we had on site," Caleb Burgard, tournament director and Dickinson Parks and Recreation's facilities manager, said. "We had a lot of high level competition between those athlete at the regional level, so it was an exciting weekend of baseball and hopefully the players take hold of and have those memories of this summer when they came to Dickinson to carry with them for the rest of their lives."