Carrington seek first trip to stateA monster season on the diamond has put them in this position, and now the Carrington Cardinals will be attempting to seal the deal starting today in New Rockford.
By: Michael Savaloja, The Jamestown Sun
A monster season on the diamond has put them in this position, and now the Carrington Cardinals will be attempting to seal the deal starting today in New Rockford.
The first pitch of the Class B Region 3 baseball tournament will be tossed out today at 10 a.m. when the No. 4-seeded Midkota Mustangs square off with the No. 5-seeded host team Sheyenne-New Rockford. But if any team wants a crack at the title, that road will most likely have to cross paths with Carrington.
Shutdown pitching and solid defense across the board has helped Carrington produce a 15-3 overall record this season. The Cardinals enter the tournament as the No. 1 seed, and they’ll face the winner of the Midkota/Sheyenne-New Rockford game at 3 p.m.
“I don’t want to jinx it, but we’ve played good defense all year,” Carrington coach Wayne Shipman said. “We’ve done a pretty good job of pitching and putting the ball in play, and we’ve been making plays when we need to.”
Carrington’s starting pitching rotation of seniors Scott Engelhorn (3-1) and Peter Henson (4-0), and juniors Austin Hewitt (5-0) and Logan Clifton (3-2), have been as good as they come. Engelhorn, Hewitt and Clifton are all carrying ERAs of less than 2, while Henson’s ERA is still an impressive 2.16.
Carrington has only allowed an average of 3 runs per game, with a little less than two of those runs being earned by the other team. The Cards have recorded 5 shutouts this season.
“That’s what we try to teach them. Get strike one and don’t get behind,” Shipman said. “Don’t walk people. As good as our defense has been playing, make them hit it and we’ll make the plays.”
Switching from defense to offense, Carrington doesn’t skip a beat. The team has plated 10 runs or more in six of their 18 games and has averaged 8.6 runs per game in outscoring their opponents 155-52.
Henson, who plays third base when he’s not on the mound, is leading the team with a .444 batting average. Next is freshman DH Brady Smith with a .411 average followed by junior centerfielder Taylor Skytland and Hewitt who are both batting around .407.
Skytland provides the spark at leadoff and he leads the team with 11 stolen bases. Hewitt leads the team with 18 RBIs, while junior Tysen Rosenau has belted a team-leading 2 home runs.
“We’ve got a lot of experience,” Shipman said. “We’ve got four seniors and six juniors who have played since the seventh and eighth grade and it just started to come together.”
Carrington will be seeking its first Region 3 championship and state tournament berth since the school first started fielding its own team in 2004. The closest the Cards have come is a pair of third-place finishes.
“At the beginning of the year our goal was just to get to the region championship. If we win it, we win it. We’ve never been there,” Shipman said. “After this season we’ve raised the bar on our expectations a little bit, but we still just want to get there.”
The only three losses Carrington has suffered this year have come at the hands of Harvey-Wells County, Hatton-Northwood and Fargo North’s JV team. Harvey-Wells County is the tournament’s No. 2 seed, and will face either No. 3 Dakota Prairie or No. 6 Lakota/Adams-Edmore at 5:30 p.m.
The Knights and the Raiders play the second game today at 12:30 p.m. The Hornets defeated Carrington 4-3 back on April 13, but the Cards bounced back with a 5-4 victory in Carrington over the Hornets a week later.
Carrington has a pair of 5-3 victories over Sheyenne-New Rockford, and has defeated Midkota twice 8-0 and 8-6.
“They are both pretty decent teams,” Shipman said of S-NR and Midkota. “Midkota is the kind of team that could do well. They always seem to put everything together at the right time, as does New Rockford-Sheyenne. You can’t take anyone for granted.”
One thing is for certain. Carrington will be looking to get things off on the right foot today, no matter which team they’ll be facing.
“I think the first thing we have to do is win that first game. To come back and win five straight is a tough task. I don’t care how good of a team you have,” Shipman said. “If we pitch well (today) we’ll be in good shape. Teams so far haven’t strung too many hits together on us. That’s our thinking.”
The state Class B baseball tournament begins on May 31 in Jamestown, which is where Carrington is hoping they’ll end up. But in order to do that they’ll first have to finally punch their ticket to the Region 3 title game, which will be played in New Rockford on Tuesday.
“We’re the No. 1 seed and to not get to the championship you’d feel like you didn’t live up to your expectations,” Shipman said. “I told them, ‘Let’s just focus on (today’s) game, win it and then worry about the next game.’ We don’t want to put the cart in front of the horse.”
Sun sports writer Michael Savaloja can be reached at (701) 952-8461 or by email at email@example.com