BOTTINEAU - No American Legion team was able to eliminate Velva from any of the previous three Class B Section 5 tournaments.
On Saturday night, despite leading 4-0 early, No. 4 Harvey became the latest club to end a season at the hand of the section powerhouse. Velva rallied for five two-out runs in the third inning and won 8-5, setting up a championship final against Cando at 3 p.m. today.
"We know what to expect," Velva coach Travis Bruner said. "We know it's a long haul. It's a long week and we have to play every game like it's our last."
Right fielder Michael Thingstad takes a cut during Velva’s 8-5 win against Harvey in the Class B Section 5 tournament on Saturday in Bottineau. Velva plays Cando at 3 p.m. today for the right to play in the state tournament.
Jon Mack lined a two-out triple to the right-center field gap that put No. 1 Velva on the board in the third.
Derek Fahy followed with a ground ball that the Harvey third baseman overthrew, allowing Mack to score and Fahy to move into scoring position.
"Travis told me to do what I do best and hit it to the opposite field and I just hung with the pitch and hit it," Mack said. "It kind of got us flowing, kind of got the juices flowing."
By the time Harvey retired Dixon Bauer to end the frame, five Velva runners scored and the three-time defending champions seized control.
The only team standing in the way of another Velva championship is the team that beat them earlier in the tournament. No. 5 Cando scored five runs early on Thursday and held on for a 5-3 win.
"I hope it's a close game," Velva third baseman Michael Thingstad said. "It's not going to be a blowout."
Said Bruner: "I think tomorrow, the winner of that game's going to be the one that makes the least amount of mistakes. Late in the tournament, everybody's tired. Everybody's arm is sore. The heat's going to get to everybody. It's going to be whoever can keep their heads in it and make the routine plays."
Cando had an opportunity to win the tournament Saturday with a pair of wins. That possibility ended quickly when Harvey jumped on Cando for six runs in the first and won 13-3.
Instead of having two opportunities to beat Velva, Cando is left with just one chance on Sunday.
"I gotta step back and take a look at a lineup again for tomorrow," Cando coach Jesse Vote said. "I told them I want to put the best possible lineup we can get with our pitcher on the mound. We gotta find guys that can hit the baseball.
"We'll take where we're at right now."
Both coaches declined to comment on likely starters for today's matchup.
Velva 5, Surrey 1
No. 6 Surrey held top-ranked Velva to two hits on Saturday, but five errors harmed the Blue Sox in a 5-1 defeat that ended Surrey's season.
Brady Schwan pitched six innings for the Blue Sox and allowed just one earned run. Schwan left the game with what appeared to be a right shoulder injury suffered in the top of the seventh.