The joy felt Friday night by the Jamestown Eagles melted away 2019's sour finish.
Jamestown entered the summer baseball regionals a year ago as the top seed in Class A's West division, only to be bounced out of the postseason in back-to-back losses, which included a demoralizing loss to a retooled eighth-seeded Dickinson team. Now playing under the home lights of Jack Brown Stadium, none of that seemed to matter.
Jamestown ran away with the Class A West tournament championship in -- for the summer of COVID-19 -- Senior Babe Ruth Baseball, cruising 11-3 over the top-seeded Bismarck Representatives. The second-seeded Eagles looked like the champions all week, earning two victories over the Reps, one over the Bismarck Caps and another against Williston.
The Eagles will play Valley City in the final opening-round game of the Class A state tournament at 7 p.m. on Tuesday at Valley City's Charlie Brown Field.
"I'm looking at my seniors right now," said Jamestown Eagles coach Sam Joseph, standing just beyond second base in center as players and fans celebrated. "Those guys are a great group of guys -- great group of leaders -- and everybody else pretty much just follows right behind them.
"That's the reason why we're here."
One of those seniors, Tommy Falk, set the tone in the first inning, launching a three-run home run well over the right-field ivy to give the home team an early 3-0 cushion. The Reps would fight back to tie the contest in the fourth, but the Eagles followed up a one-run fifth by exploding for seven runs in their final at-bat.
"A little better outcome than last year," said Falk, who helped the Eagles go 12-2 in the division last season. Jamestown finished at 14-2 in the conference this summer, behind the Reps at 15-1. "For a lot of us, it was a very sour taste in our mouth. We wanted things to be different this year, that's for sure."
Falk's blast came off Bismarck starter Carson Motschenbacher, who was the winning pitcher in Bismarck's 8-7 come-from-behind victory earlier in the night against the Bismarck Capitals, which advanced the Reps into the title game. Motschenbacher had already 4 1/3 innings under his belt when giving up consecutive hits to Jeremy Williams (double), Connor Hoyt (bunt single), Falk (homer) and Max Anderson (single) to begin the game.
Motschenbacher would only face eight batters, handing the ball over to lefty Jackson Klipfel after walking Ty Monson leading off the second. Klipfel sat the Eagles down in order in both the third and fourth frames to keep the Reps viable.
"I was actually really happy with the way we competed ... a lot better than the last time we played Jamestown," said Bismarck Reps coach Troy Olson, whose team fell 8-1 to Jamestown on Thursday. "Jackson Klipfel on the mound was fantastic in relief. I told Carson I thought we'd get him up to 80 (pitches on the day) and we had to pull him at 70 cause he was getting lit up.
"But as you can see, (Jamestown) can swing the bats. They're a good team."
Jamestown starter Max Anderson worked out of a bases-loaded jam in the third but ran into more trouble in the fourth. The Reps ultimately tied the game on an error and a pair of hits, including a two-run single off the bat of pitcher Klipfel, prior to Jamestown reliever Mason Lunzman fanning Noah Riedinger to end the frame.
Lunzman earned the win behind four strong innings of two-hit baseball in which he recorded a trio of strikeouts.
Joseph said Falk's early home run affected Jameston's approach at the plate, which finally veered back to normal when Anderson pushed across the go-ahead run with an RBI single in the fifth.
Jamestown's seven-run sixth was highlighted by a Hoyt RBI single, a Chris Erickson two-run single and a Jacoby Nold two-run double.
"As soon as we changed our approach back to where we wanted to get to gap to gap and hitting the ball hard, we exploded for seven runs," Joseph said.
But the coach certainly wouldn't have taken back Falk's homer, which possibly bounced into the James River.
"When he was in the cage swinging, each and every swing the ball was jumping off his bat," Joseph said. "I was like, 'He is going to have a day.'"
"Two guys got on ... and it made my life pretty easy," Falk added. "When you got Max and Mason, I mean, they threw tremendous. You can't ask for much more than that."
The Reps will play the Fargo Jets on Tuesday at 1 p.m. in Valley City.
"Everyone who's there is there for a reason," Olson said. "If we can compete -- swing the sticks, play D and throw strikes -- I like our chances with anyone."
Jamestown will get to recharge a rivalry in the nightcap. The Eagles defeated Valley City 6-2 on July 7 at Jack Brown Stadium.
"Back to the rivalry again," Joseph said. "We'll just go out there, fly around and have fun.'
"Keep our stellar pitching up," Falk concluded. "Bats have been going ... keep everything going and see how far this goes."
Reps 8, Caps 7
Prior to Friday's title tilt, the Reps walked-off the Bismarck Caps 8-7 to earn its date against the Eagles.
The Reps fought back from a 5-1 deficit after two innings and left the bases loaded after six trailing 7-6. But Reps' pinch hitter Caden Fischer was beaned by a Keegan Glatt pitch to start the bottom of the eighth, putting the rally wheels in motion.
Three consecutive bunts at the plate by Jackson Klipfel, Carter Klipfel and Carson Motschenbacher off newcomer to the hill Josh Lardy put runners at first and second with two outs for three-hole hitter Noah Riedinger. Riedinger lined an RBI single into the outfield, advancing the Reps into the title game.
Senior Babe Ruth Class A State Tournament
At Charlie Brown Field, Valley City
Tuesday, Aug. 4
G1: (E1) WF Vets vs. (W4) Minot, 10 a.m.
G2: (W2) Bismarck Reps vs. (E3) Fargo Post 2 Jets, 1 p.m.
G3: (E2) Devils Lake vs. (W3) Bismarck Caps, 4 p.m.
G4: (W1) Jamestown vs. (E4) Valley City, 7 p.m.
Wednesday, Aug. 5
G5: G1 Loser vs. G2 Loser, 10 a.m.
G6: G3 Loser vs. G4 Loser, 1 p.m.
G7: G1 Winner vs. G2 Winner, 4 p.m.
G8: G3 Winner vs. G4 Winnder, 7 p.m.
Thursday, Aug. 6
G9: G6 Winner vs. G7 Loser, 11 a.m.
G10: G5 Winner vs. G8 Loser, 2 p.m.
G11: G7 Winner vs. G8 Winner, 5 p.m.
Friday, Aug. 7
G12: G9 Winner vs. G11 Loser, 2 p.m.
G13: G10 Winner vs. G11 Winner, 5 p.m.
Saturday, Aug. 8
G14: G13 Winner vs. G12 Winner, noon (championship)
G15: (If necessary) G14 Winner vs. G14 Loser, 3 p.m.
Class A West Region Tournament
At Jack Brown Stadium, Jamestown
Jamestown 11, Bismarck Reps 3
BR 000 300 0 -- 3 6 1
J 300 017 X -- 11 12 2
Carson Motschenbacher, Jackson Klipfel (2), Caden Fischer (6) and Miles Stiefel. Max Anderson, Mason Lunzman (4) and Tommy Falk. W--Lunzman. L--Klipfel. LOB: Bismarck 7, Jamestown 5.
Highlights: B, Motschenbacher 1 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 1 BB, 1-2, RBI; Klipfel 4 2/3 IP, 6 H, 6 R, 6 ER, 1 BB, 4 SO, 2-2, 2 RBI, R. J, Anderson 3 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 1 SO, 2-3, BB, 2 RBI, R; Lunzman 4 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 3 SO, 1-4, R; Connor Hoyt 3-4, RBI, 3 R; Jeremy Williams 2-4, 2 2B, R; Falk 1-2, HR, BB, 3 RBI, R; Chris Erickson 1-4, 2 RBI, R; Jacoby Nold 1-4, 2B, 2 RBI.
Bismarck Reps 8, Bismarck Caps 7
BC 122 002 0 -- 7 7 3
BR 102 102 2 -- 8 13 2
Josh Kolling, Seth Deitz (5), Keegan Glatt (6), Josh Lardy (7) and Shea Huntington. Caiden Schwehr, Carson Motschenbacher (3) and Miles Stiefel. W--Motschenbacher. L--Lardy. LOB: Reps 10, Caps 6.
Highlights: BC, Kolling 4.2 IP, 8 H, 4 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 1 SO; Glatt 2/3 IP, 2 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 0 S0, 1-2, 2B, BB, RBI, 2 R; Lardy 2/3 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 0 SO; Jaden Mitzel 3-4, 2B, 2 RBI, R; Andrew Fisher 1-3, 2B, BB, RBI, R. BR, Schwehr 2.2 IP 4 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 4 BB, 1 SO; Motchenbacher 4.1 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 0 BB, 2 SO, 3-4, 2B, 3 RBI, R; Noah Riedinger 2-4, BB, 2 RBI, 2 R; Carter Klipfel 3-4, 3B, BB, 3 R
(Seeding and region records in parenthesis)
G1: (1) Bismarck Reps 10, (8) Mandan 0, (5 inn.)
G2: (4) Minot 10, (5) Bismarck Senators 8
G3: (3) Bis. Caps 11, (6) Dickinson 1
G4: (2) Jamestown 11, (7) Williston (3-13) 0
G5: Mandan 13, Bismarck Senators 7
G6: Dickinson 4, Williston 3
G7: Bismarck Reps 11, Minot 6 (state qualifier)
G8: Jamestown 2, Bismarck Caps 1 (8 inn.) (state qualifier)
G9: Bismarck Caps 2, Mandan 1 (state qualifier)
G10: Minot 20, Dickinson 10 (state qualifier)
G11: Bismarck Caps 4, Minot 3 (8 inn.)
G12: Jamestown 8, Bismarck Reps 1.
G13: Bismarck Reps 8, Bismarck Caps 7
G14: Jamestown 11, Bismarck Reps 3 (Championship)
Class A East Region Tournament
At Jack Williams Stadium, Fargo
G1: (1) WF Aces 4, (8) Casselton 2
G2: (5) Post 2 Jets 7, (4) Devils Lake 0
G3: (2) Valley City 5, (7) Kindred 3
G4: (3) WF Vets 11, (6) Post 2 Bombers 1
G5: Devils Lake 2, Casselton 1
G6: Post 2 Bombers 11, Kindred 1
G7: Post 2 Jets 6, WF Aces 5
G8: WF Vets 2, Valley City 0
G9: Post 2 Bombers 10, WF Aces 8
G10: Devils Lake 12, Valley City 0
G11: WF Vets 7, Post 2 Jets 6
G12: Devils Lake 4, Post 2 Bombers 0
G13: Devils Lake 5, Post 2 Jets 4
G14: WF Vets 5, Devils Lake 3 (championship)