Region 6 will have a new representative at the state tournament this season.
With 2012 region champion Beulah realigned to Region 8 before the start of the season, the door is wide open for a new title-holder when the Region 6 tournament begins Tuesday at Jack Hoeven Park. The tournament was originally scheduled to begin today, but rainy weather forced the postponement.
Velva-Drake-Anamoose captured the regular-season title after defeating Bishop Ryan in a 6-5 thriller on May 13, handing the Lions their only loss of the season. The Aggies seek their first appearance at state since winning the tournament in 2010.
Velva-Drake-Anamoose junior Drew Effertz throws a pitch against Bishop Ryan on May 13 at Jack Hoeven Park. The Aggies and Lions are the No. 1 and 2 seeds, respectively, for the Region 6 tournament, which begins Tuesday at Hoeven.
The Aggies have a solid ace on the mound with Drew Effertz. Effertz limited the Lions to a season-low five runs in 6 1/3 innings in what V-D-A coach Gene Buen described as his best start of the season.
Ryan - the No. 2 seed - is also hoping to return to its glory days when the Lions won three consecutive state titles from 2007 to 2009. The Lions got off to a fast start, winning their first eight games before losing to V-D-A.
"You never know what's going to happen," Ryan coach Brent Nelson said. "You never know who's going to win. Baseball's a funny game. You have to show up and play all seven innings."
The Lions boast a formidable lineup that averages 11.9 runs per game. Juniors Mason Kramer and Tyler Allers supply the team's power, but the rest of the roster is anything but an easy out. Ryan is hitting .441 as a team and eight Lions are batting better than .400.
Nelson said hitting is not his main concern.
"Most important is pitchers throwing strikes and we have to make plays in the field," he said. "There were games where we're doing really well and one error triggers other teams scoring runs on us."
The Lions will play their first game of the tournament against the winner of No. 3 seed Garrison-Max and sixth-seeded Sawyer.
If the shortened season has been any indication of how the region tournament will play out, V-D-A and Ryan are no sure thing to meet in the championship game. Both teams got more than they bargained for from No. 4 seed Surrey-Our Redeemer's Christian School. The Mustangs' mantra this season has been to wait until the final few innings to score runs and against V-D-A it worked in their favor. Surrey-ORCS plated six runs in the bottom of the seventh against the Aggies before walking off with four in the eighth.
"We need to pitch well and play better defense," Surrey-ORCS coach Bruce Mack said. "We need to be solid defensively the whole tournament to have success. We pitch well and hit the ball well, but we make too many mistakes defensively."
Before Surrey-ORCS can look forward to a rematch with the Aggies, it has to get by No. 5 seed Central McLean in the opening game of the tournament at 11 a.m. Tuesday. The Mustangs defeated Central McLean 6-5, scoring a run in the bottom of the seventh to end the game.
Mack said the lineup will remain the same, but he hasn't decided who will be the starting pitcher. Mack has a number of options to choose from, including Trever Ringoen, Chris Olson, Noah Knipp, Brendan Larson and Jacob Burckhard.
"It's a one-game-at-a-time deal," Mack said. "You have to win. That first game is as important as the last game. Bottom line is we have to win."
No. 4 seed Dakota Prairie and No. 5 seed Lakota-Adams-Edmore open the Region 3 tournament Monday at 10 a.m. in Tolna for the right to play top-seeded New Rockford-Sheyenne.
NR-S and Carrington - the No. 2 seed - have first-round byes. The Cardinals play the winner of No. 3 seed Midkota and No. 6 Central Prairie. Carrington defeated Midkota 17-16 and Central Prairie 13-0 this season.
No. 3 seed Rugby and No. 4 seed Bottineau played their way into the Region 5 tournament Thursday by easily handling their opponents. The Panthers routed Dunseith 19-0 and Bottineau defeated Rolette-Rolla-Wolford 15-5.
Top-seeded North Star plays Bottineau at 11 a.m. Thursday in Cando. The Bearcats swept a doubleheader against the Braves on May 13. North Star's pitching staff and defense limited opponents to 31 runs in nine games. The Bearcats haven't allowed more than five runs in any game this season.
Rugby draws No. 2 seed Harvey-Wells County.
Watford City went undefeated against Region 7 opponents this season and received the top seed in the tournament beginning today. The Wolves play No. 4 seed Lewis & Clark, which defeated Des Lacs-Burlington 10-8 in a play-in game. All four meetings this season have been decided by four runs or less.
Mohall-Lansford-Sherwood made the most of its first season in the region by earning the No. 2 seed. The Mavericks play third-seeded Trenton-Trinity Christian, which won via forfeit against New Town in the other play-in game.
As was the case all season, Watford City will have the luxury of playing at home. Watford City has the only playable field among region teams.