BY JIM MISUNAS
FARGO, N.D. – The Great Bend Braves played near-perfect baseball for 11/2 innings with a 5-0 lead in Friday’s Mid States Baseball Regional over Sioux Falls, S.D.
It marked the only time in three losses that the Braves recaptured the magic that earned them a 750-mile trip to North Dakota with a runner-up Class A state finish. The 17-and-under Braves (31-18) lost three Mid States pool games to finish with a four-game losing streak.
After losing 17-7 to Sioux Falls in an elimination game, Fargo, N.D. handed the Braves a 12-2 loss in their final baseball game of the summer Friday.
“We wish we could’ve played better baseball,” said Braves coach Travis Kurth. “They fought. They were frustrated we could not finish with some wins. We had a great season – 31-18. The run we had at state was incredible. I was proud of those guys. We had great support from the community.”
Kurth said the Braves were unable to play at a high level after a 10-day layoff. The Braves swept five games in the losers bracket at state after surviving the state’s best regional at Buhler. Their pitching, hitting and fielding didn’t perform.
“Had we played like last week, we would’ve had a chance to win. We never did that,” Kurth said. “It was frustrating. Pitching-wise, we were lackluster. Hitting wise, we did not string any hits together.”
SIOUX FALLS 17, BRAVES 7 – After leadng 5-0, the next half-inning versus Sioux Falls featured an Energizer Bunny frame — it kept going-and-going.
Sioux Falls scored 15 runs and an amazing 17 consecutive baserunners reached base against starter Colin Hall and reliever Joey Soupiset.
“We could not get out of the inning,” Kurth said. “Give them credit for putting the ball in play. That was a bad inning.”
Sioux Falls roared past the Braves 17-7 in a run-rule victory that clinched a spot in Saturday’s semifinals and ended the Braves’ post-season play.
Sioux Falls collected 11 hits and the Braves contributed four walks, three errors and a hit batter that led to nine unearned runs. Alex Breidenbach and Alex Smith delivered back-to-back doubles, but most of the base hits were bloops and soft line drives that found a gap.
The Braves rolled to a 5-0 lead after two at-bats. Calan Haberman reached on a first-inning error and Townshend Kurth and Colin Hall walked. Jesus Bujanda singled home Haberman and Kurth. Hall scored on Eduardo Bujanda’s groundout for a 3-0 lead.
Kurth’s triple scored Cal Kaiser and Haberman after a second-inning error and double by Haberman for a 5-0 lead. Kurth was stranded at third base when Hall and Jesus Bujanda were retired. Haberman, Kurth and Jesus Bujanda each delivered two hits.
Sioux Falls’ second inning at-bat turned into a nightmare for the Braves. The Braves handed Sioux Falls extra baserunners with two infield errors and five baserunners without a hit. Coach Kurth talked to Hall, who failed to retire a batter after the visit. Soupiset faced six batters without recording an out.
Braves’ reliever Townshend Kurth pitched three solid innings until Sioux Falls’ Evan Hammer and Tada Naoe drove in runs for a 17-7 run-rule victory.
FARGO 12, BRAVES 2 – The Fargo Bombers easily rolled past the Braves, who were led by Eduardo Bujanda and Jesus Bujanda, who combined for three doubles. Jesus Bujanda doubled home Colin Hall in the fifth inning. Eduardo Bujanda doubled and scored on Dalton Barfield’s sixth-inning groundout.
Fargo roughed up a trio of Braves pitchers for 17 hits. Fargo scored three runs in the fourth and sixth innings. They added two runs in the first, third and seventh innings.
SIOUX FALLS 17, BRAVES 7
GB 32 011 — 7 9 3
SF 0(15) 002 — 17 17 2
Hall, Soupiset (2), Kurth (2) and E. Bujanda. Boe, Bierle (5) and W—Boe. L—Hall, 7-4. 2B—GB—Haberman, E. Bujanda; SF—Jake Smith, Breidenbach. 3B—GB—Kurth.
FARGO 12, BRAVES 2
Fargo 202 303 2 — 12 15 0
GB 000 011 0 — 2 5 2
Kurth, Smith (3) and E. Bujanda. Reed, Headlee and Boutain. W—Reed. L—Kurth, 6-3. 2B—GB—E. Bujanda 2, J. Bujanda; F—Martodem. 3B—F—Manuel.
LEGION A MID STATES REGIONAL
WILLIAMS STADIUM (x-semifinalist)
RED POOL—x-Edina, Minn. 37-7 (3-0); x-Jefferson City, Mo. 28-10 (2-1); Moorhead, Minn. (0-3)
BLACK POOL—x-Fargo, N.D. 28-22 (3-0); Sioux Falls, S.D. 50-15 (1-2); Great Bend Braves 31-18 (0-3)
THURSDAY’S GAMES—Fargo 9, Sioux Falls 8; Edina, Minn 15, Sioux Falls 5’ Edina 5, Moorhead 4; Jefferson City 12, Great Bend Braves 1
FRIDAY’S GAMES—Fargo 7, Moorhead 3; Jefferson City 16, Moorhead 7; Edina 14, Jefferson City 1; Sioux Falls, S.D. 17, Great Bend Braves 7; Fargo, N.D. 12, Great Bend 2
SATURDAY’S GAMES—Fargo, N.D. 7, Jefferson City 5; Edina 5, Sioux Falls 4; Championship game—Edina 13, Fargo, N.D. 4