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Bryan Erstad sprints home to score during the Class AAA state championship game. John M. Steiner / The Sun1 / 5
Jared Purdy (31) and Turner Storm (59) of the Merchangts congratulate Tony Viger (10) and Bryan Erstad after scoring during Sunday's Class AAA state championship game against the Elks. Also shown is Preston Jensen (34). John M. Steiner / The Sun2 / 5
Boya Quichocho (13) looks for the call after being tagged out by third baseman Brady Anderson. John M. Steiner / The Sun3 / 5
Sam Hirchert delivers a pitch Sunday against the Elks. John M. Steiner / The Sun4 / 5
Christian Hackworth delivers a pitch Sunday against the Merchants. John M. Steiner / The Sun5 / 5

Sam Hirchert logged almost 11 innings on the mound Sunday at Jack Brown Stadium.

The question after leading the Jamestown Miller Lite Merchants to the Class AAA state amateur baseball tournament championship was pretty obvious. How was the ol' right arm feeling?

"Not good. I am going to feel really awful tomorrow," the former Mayville State standout joked. "I was definitely not expecting to throw 10 2/3 innings today."

But he did as the Merchants defeated the Mayville Redcaps 10-3 in eight innings, and the Jamestown Elks 11-2 in the nine-inning title tilt. Hirchert was the winning pitcher in both games, allowing just two runs on five hits with nine strikeouts in the marathon afternoon on the mound.

"Absolutely it's worth it. It's a great feeling for our team," said Hirchert, who began his college career at then Jamestown College. "I love pitching here. It's definitely my favorite park to pitch in. It could possibly be my last tournament, you never know."

Hirchert and his wife are moving to Minneapolis in two weeks, although he's hopeful of continuing his career with the Merchants.

"I already talked to the wife about it, so hopefully we can work it out," he said.

Hirchert's heroics almost never happened.

In the first game on Sunday, the Mayville Redcaps were 90 feet from eliminating the Merchants. Called on in relief, Hirchert got the now nine-time Class AAA champs out of a major jam in the bottom of the seventh inning. In the eighth, they erupted for seven runs. Another seven-run inning—this time in the top of the ninth against the Elks—sealed the deal.

"It definitely was not an easy or pretty weekend of baseball for us, but the bottom line is we got it done," said Merchants manager Bryan Erstad, who had two hits in both games Sunday. "This is the first tournament we've won all summer. It's a great feeling to be back in Jamestown and win."

The Merchants banged out 13 hits against the Elks. When 7-hole hitter Dan Ross clubbed a grand slam in the top of the ninth, the title for the Miller Lite sponsored squad was on tap.

"What can you say? You never know who is going to step up. We got a lot of contributions up and down the lineup and our pitching was great all weekend," Erstad said. "To be able to beat two good teams like Mayville and the Elks in a couple of tough ballgames, I'm really proud of the guys. We'll be back next year to try it again."

The Elks, who outscored their two opponents 16-3 on Saturday thanks to strong pitching from Cole Torgerson and Ryan Iliff, were the defending Class AAA champions.

Class AAA State Tournament

Saturday's games

Jamestown Elks 5, Bismarck Braves 1

J 002 030 0 -- 5 9 0

B 000 000 1 -- 1 1 1

Cole Torgerson and Alex Sablan. Devin Bercier, Jaylin McCloud (6) and Beriah Smith. W--Torgerson. L--McCloud. HR--Elks, Alex Sablan.

Highlights: Elks, Nick Wrigg 2-3; Boya Quichocho 1-4, 2 SB; Sablan 1-3 HR, BB; Caleb Fischer 1-2 2 R; Tanner Lunzman 1-2 2 R; Ryan Iliff 1-2 2 RBI; Logan Krivoruchka 1-4; Cam Jenkins 1-1; Torgerson 7 IP, 1 R (O ER), 1 H, 8 SO, 5 BB. B, Beriah Smith 1-2; Christian McCloud 0-1 R.

Mayville Redcaps 5, Jamestown Miller Lite Merchants 3

M 000 210 2 -- 5 10 1

J 002 100 0 -- 3 6 2

Jace Ingebretson and Austin Monson. Greg Lunski, Dan Ross (7) and Anthony Fontana. W--Ingebretson. L--Ross. HR--Merchants, Bryan Erstad, Tony Viger.

Highlights: Mayville, Pladson 1-4 2B, R; Alex Berry 2-3 R; Danny Scholand 1-4 R; Mickey Berry 2-3 2 RBI, R; Monson 1-4; Jace Pederson 1-4; Jake Bilden 1-4; Conner Weber 1-2; Ingebretson 7 IP, 3 R, 6 H, 4 SO, 3 BB. J, Erstad 2-2 HR, BB; Viger 2-4 HR; Andrew Hill 1-3; Dakotah Kirchenwitz 1-2 2B; Lunski 6 IP, 3 R, 7 H, 4 SO, 2 BB.

Merchants 7, Bismarck 0

B 000 000 0 -- 0 3 4

J 001 312 x -- 7 9 0

Jaylin Keplin, Skylar Keplin (4), Christian McCloud (6) and Smith. Ross and Alec Sames. W--Ross. L--J.Keplin.

Highlights: B, Darius Saeman 1-3; C.McCloud 1-3; Darien Hamley 1-2. J, Brady Anderson 2-3 3 R; Preston Jensen 2-4 RBI, R; Erstad 1-3; Hill 1-3; Joe Vannett 1-3; Sames 1-3 R; Turner Storm 1-2, R; Ross 7 IP, 0 R, 3 H, 6 SO, 1 BB.

Elks 11, Mayville 2, 5 Innings

J 000 47 -- 11 12 3

M 100 10 -- 2 4 0

Ryan Iliff and Joey Gebhardt. Gabe Salander, Brandon Lacher (4) and Monson. W--Iliff. L--Salander.

Highlights: Elks, Wrigg 1-3 RBI, R; Corry Shevlin 2-4 2 R, RBI; Quichocho 2-3 R; Sablan 3-4, 2B, 2 R, 2 RBI; Cody Vogler 1-3 R; Tanner Lunzman 1-2 2 RBI, R; Krivoruchka 1-2 2 RBI; Kyle Mallory 1-2 R, RBI; Gebhardt 0-2 R; Iliff 5 IP, 2 R (0 ER), 3 BB, 0 BB.

Sunday's games

Merchants 10, Mayville 3, 8 Innings

J 000 030 07 -- 10 8 1

M 000 003 00 -- 3 9 3

Brandon Baumgartner, Sam Hirchert (7) and Anthony Fontana. Mickey Berry and Austin Monson. W--Hirchert. L--Berry.

Highlights: Merchants, Brady Anderson 0-4 2 R; Preston Jensen 1-3 2 R; Bryan Erstad 2-4 R, 3 RBI; Tony Viger 1-4; Dakotah Kirchenwitz 0-3 RBI; Dan Ross 1-4 R, RBI; Anthony Fontana 0-3 R; Jared Purdy 1-1 2B, 3 RBI; Hirchert 1 2/3 IP, 0 R, 1 H, 2 SO. Mayville, Jake Pladson 1-4; Alex Berry 1-3 R; Danny Scholand 1-3 R; Mickey Berry 1-3; Monson 1-3 2 RBI; Jake Bilden 2-4 RBI; Jace Ingebretson 1-4; Hayden Bring 1-4; Connor Weber 1-3.

Championship

Merchants 11, Elks 2

M 103 000 007 -- 11 13 0

E 000 200 000 -- 2 4 1

Hirchert and Fontana. Christian Hackworth, Cam Jenkins (8), Seth Pigg (9), Ryan Iliff (9) and Sablan. W--Hirchert. L--Hackworth. HR--Merchants, Dan Ross (GS).

Highlights: Merchants, Anderson 2-5 R; Jensen 2-3 3 R; Erstad 2-4 2B, R, RBI; Hill 3-4 2B, R, 2 RBI; Ross 2-5 HR, 6 RBI; Fontana 2-4 R; Hirchert 9 IP, 2 R, 4 H, 7 SO, 5 BB. Elks, Iliff 1-4 R; Vogler 1-3; Gebhardt 1-1; Krivoruchka 1-4.

Dave Selvig
Selvig has been a sports writer at The Sun since 1999 and sports editor since 2009.
(701) 952-8460
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