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Jamestown Tarnos looking to repeat as AA amateur champs

The Tarnos are looking to be the fourth local baseball team to make a championship game this season.

Am Ball Hound Connell n Fischer.jpg
Jamestown Hounds' Justin Connell (88) and Danny Fischer celebrate a pair of runs Sunday during the 2019 North Dakota Amateur Baseball Tournament at Jack Brown Stadium.
John M. Steiner / The Sun
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JAMESTOWN — After winning the North Dakota State Amateur Baseball Class A state tournament with the Jamestown Merchants, Tom Gould is trying to go two-for-two with his Jamestown Tarnos team set to take part in the Class AA amateur baseball tournament from Friday, Aug. 12-Sunday, Aug. 14.

The team is made up of a mix of players from different area teams mixing high school players and adult league players. The team has four former Jimmies in Ryan Iliff, Noah Soltero, Aaron Pugh, and Justin Connell.

“What happens is Tom Gould gets together and tries to find basically nine area guys who are around to come play,” shortstop Danny Fischer said. “It’s gonna be a mix of older guys like myself who play on different teams for the most part of the summer, along with a mix of kids who just finished their legion season. So, it’s a pretty cool little dynamic of getting some older guys and some younger guys. Basically, what this Tarno team is, it’s just thrown together to make sure that the double A tournament has eight teams.”

The Tarnos are trying to repeat as champions of the AA bracket and for them to do that Gould said they need help from their pitchers.

“On the mound, we have Jake Stillwell and Noah Soltero, they’re tough,” Gould said. “Ryder Lunzman, Ryder’s been throwing the ball well for us. We also have Mason Lunzman and Connor Hoyt. They’re young kids but they’ve played with us last year. Pitching is kind of key, Ryan Iliff will be here, so that will really help us. We’ve got decent pitching, we swing the bat pretty well, it should be interesting.”

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The first team in the Tarnos way is the Fargo Crows who lost to the Tarnos in the semifinals of the 2021 tournament. Fischer said he is looking forward to playing the Crows again and seeing what they can do. By virtue of their experience in the game, Fischer said he and Iliff and Pugh serve as leaders for the high school players on the roster. Fischer said they help pass on their knowledge of the game to the high school players and help them scout the opponents before they step up to the plate.

“Basically, it’s one of those deals where we’re gonna play the game but if a legion kid has a question or there is some kind of situation or if a kid’s asking, ‘what did you see in that last at-bat. What kind of sequence is the pitcher showing? Is he a first-pitch curveball guy, is he trying to establish the fastball early?’ Us older guys pick up on that stuff and we try to pass that on to the younger kids to make their at-bats a little easier and then maybe they can even carry that into their spring season,” Fischer said.

Iliff said he and Fischer and Pugh are using the Tarnos as well as the other summer teams they play for as an attempt to continue to stay in the game they love.

“I think we’ve definitely been around the block quite a bit,” Iliff said. “For us, this is all about just continuing to play the game. Do I need to pitch as much as I do when I’m 33 years old, no, but I love throwing, I love competing and I want to play as much as I can. That’s kind of the way Danny is as well, he always keeps track of how many games he plays throughout the summer, he wants to play as much as he can, and being able to play in this state tournament helps us play more and obviously we’re always at the field anyway so it works out pretty well.”

Hello,
My name is Max O'Neill. I am a Sports Reporter at The Jamestown Sun. I am a native New Yorker, who graduated from Ithaca College in 2020 with a degree in Television-Radio.
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