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Merchants repeat as 'AAA' state champs

Jared Purdy (31) is congratulated by Bryan Erstad after hitting a homerun Wednesday at Jack Brown Stadium. John M. Steiner / The Sun1 / 2
Brandon Baumgartner delivers a pitch Wednesday for the Merchants at Jack Brown Stadium in Jamestown. John M. Steiner / The Sun2 / 2

Jamestown's Jared Purdy has seen a lot over his 20-year amateur baseball career with the Miller Lite Merchants. Purdy is the all-time leader in at-bats and has won 10 Class AAA titles, just to name a few accomplishments.

But with three kids, including some of them starting to play baseball, Purdy's free time in the summer has dwindled.

"I have kids that play a lot of ball and I do a lot of baseball coaching, too," Purdy explained. "I probably missed more games this year than the first 19 years I played."

Purdy didn't let contemplating retirement, however, keep him from having a great night Wednesday during the Class AAA amatuer baseball state tournament championship game as he went 1-for-1 with three RBIs as Jamestown topped Mayville 8-5 for the title at Jack Brown Stadium.

"It feels amazing," said Jamestown player/coach Bryan Erstad. "I'm proud of the team, guys and it's been a fun season. You never know when it'll be the last one for some of these guys so you cherish a state title when you get it."

Purdy opened the scoring in the second inning with a two-run homer that went well over the Jack Brown right-field wall. During the next inning, Purdy scored Preston Jensen with a sacrifice fly to extend the Merchants' lead to 4-2.

"It's been awhile since I hit one here," Purdy said of the home run. "You don't hit as many with wood bats, of course, but I hit a couple off the fence this year. Today I got lucky."

Purdy, 38, is a JHS graduate and played high school and American Legion baseball right here in Jamestown.

"I've been coming here since I was 8 years old shagging balls," Purdy said about Jack Brown Stadium. "I've probably seen more games on this field than anybody here tonight."

Purdy played for the University of Jamestown baseball team as a freshman, before transfering to the University of North Dakota the next year. Purdy's college baseball career came to an end after hurting his arm after one season at UND.

The now owner of Interstate Spray Foam Insulation, a business out of Fargo, graduated and played for 20 summers as a Jamestown Merchant.

"I've seen a lot of guys come through this team," Purdy said. "It's taken up a lot of the last 20 summers but now my kids are 11, 8 and 4, so that turned my main focus to them nowadays."

Purdy said some of his favorite memories over the years have been games with the Jamestown Elks.

"Back in my early years it was a lot more competitive it seemed like," Purdy said. "The Elks had pretty good teams back in the day, but I was just a young guy then and now I'm the old guy so it's a little different."

Brandon Baumgartner started on the mound for the Merchants where he went nine innings, gave up five runs, 12 hits and struck out five. The pitcher also worked out of jams in seven of nine innings.

"He's pitched in a lot of big games for us over the years," Erstad said of Baumgartner. "He knows that spot and knows how to work out of trouble.

"He's a great guy to have in that situation."

Since 2001, either the Merchants or Jamestown Elks have won the amatuer baseball state title, according to Erstad.

"For some of our older guys on the Merchants, you wonder how long can we go? But we're going to keep it going long as we can," Erstad said.

Jamestown Merchants 8, Mayville 5

JAM 031 001 021 -- 8 7 4

MAY 020 001 002 -- 5 12 6

Merchant highlights: Jared Purdy 1-1, HR, 3 RBI; Jose Soriano 1-3, 2 R; Brandon Baumgartner 9 IP, 5 R, 12 H, 5 K, 3 BB; Ryder Lunzman 2-2, R; Andrew Hill 1-5; Anthony Fontana 1-3.

Mitchell Johnson

Hometown: Enumclaw, WA; College: Central Washington University

(360) 918-1853