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Wahpeton capitalizes on error to advances to semifinals

Wahpeton's Tyler Gripentrog. David Samson / The Forum

WAHPETON, N.D. - Tyler Gripentrog led Wahpeton to victory on Thursday with his bat. On Friday he used his arm.

Gripentrog pitched a complete-game shutout and gave up no hits through four innings as Wahpeton edged Plato, Minn., 1-0 on Friday at the Division II Central Plains Regional American Legion baseball tournament.

With the win, Wahpeton moves on to the semifinal game against Ely, Minn., at 1 p.m. today at John Randall Park.

In Thursday's game against Groton, S.D., Wahpeton coasted to a 4-3 win off of Gripentrog's 3-for-3 performance with two doubles, a single and four RBIs.

Friday was a different chapter of the same story.

Gripentrog retired the first ten batters of the game before giving up his only two hits in the fourth inning.

"I just wanted to throw strikes with good control," Gripentrog said. "Get ahead and give the team a good chance to win."

The Wahpeton Post 20 squad took notice of his effort as the team's defense committed no errors in support of Gripentrog.

"He's having a heck of a tournament right now. We have a lot of confidence when he's on the mound," Wahpeton head coach Chris Kappes said. "He threw a great game today, but we played great defense behind it. They had a couple errors and that was the difference of the game."

Starting on the mound for Plato was Ethan Maass, who struck out four straight batters before Carson Miller ripped a single passed the second baseman to break the streak.

Maass finished with nine strikeouts and four walks. But with only two Wahpeton hits, errors certainly made a difference in the game.

Gripentrog hit a ground ball that rolled through the legs of Plato shortstop Adam Prehn in the fifth inning. The ball rolled into the outfield and gave Alex Lunneborg enough time to score from second base to tack on the only run of the game and give Wahpeton the 1-0 lead.

Prehn would pick himself up with a single in the sixth - Plato's third and final hit of the game.

Gripentrog faced only six more batters and struck out Cole Peterson and Carter Pinske for the last two outs of the game. Derek Bratsch and Nolan Lepel each added one hit for Plato.

"Our bats have been struggling for about half a dozen games now ... We need to get them going," Kappes said. "Fun game. With two under our belt we've put ourselves in a pretty good situation."

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Gripentrog and Lunneborg. Maass and Dunbar. W-Gripentrog. L-Maass.

Readers can reach Forum reporter

Glenn Pursley at (701) 241-5549