Weather delays state baseball

JAMESTOWN – Winning a championship requires unflinching mental toughness and focus.

For the four teams still vying for the Class B baseball state title, Mother Nature did her best to derail that focus Friday in Jamestown, leaving those left in the championship bracket in tournament limbo.

“It’s gonna be hard if we have to bring this all down again and start it back up,” Hazen coach Brent Hysjulien said.

That’s exactly what Hysjulien and the Bison will need to do this morning as their semifinal game against No. 2 Grafton was suspended in the middle of the second inning Friday night. With Hazen holding a 3-2 lead, play will resume today, weather permitting.

With rain projected throughout Friday’s forecast, it finally arrived around 4 p.m., disrupting the day’s second consolation game between Harvey-Wells County and Midkota. After a two-hour delay, the Mustangs squeezed in a ninth-inning, walk-off victory to advance to today’s fifth-place contest.

But shortly after the winning run, rain began to fall yet again, inducing another delay and the infield tarp’s second appearance of the evening.

Hazen waited patiently for drier conditions with players attempting to stay loose in the outfield grass.

After a bit of field repair and a few wheelbarrows of sand, the first semifinal matchup between the Bison and No. 2 Grafton began, but it took less than an hour for the tarps to return to the infield.

Early momentum can be a valuable commodity in state semifinal games, particularly when carrying a lead.

Having that momentum interrupted isn’t ideal.

“But that’s kinda like some things in life,” Hysjulien said. “There’s ups and downs, and we have to find a way to rebound.”

Coaches are set to meet at 10 a.m. today to determine how tournament games will be rescheduled.

While the Hazen and Grafton had their game suspended, the rain inspired another set of problems for the tournament’s other two semifinalists.

No. 1 Watford City and No. 4 Velva-Drake-Anamoose, both coming off four-run quarterfinal victories, didn’t see the field Friday night.

With players anxiously waiting for a shot at a title-game berth, the wait can be difficult to endure. But V-D-A coach Matt Weidler and Watford City coach Justin Johnsrud are realistic.

“It’s a lot like any other time,” Johnsrud said. “When you play spring baseball in North Dakota, there is nothing that you can do about the weather. You gotta kinda learn how to deal with it.”

“The guys are just anxious to go,” Weidler added. “This is baseball, and when it rains there’s not much you can do about it. We’ll deal with whatever outcome we get.”

Disappointing as the wait may be, Weidler and Johnsrud will be keen to keep their kids focused ahead of today’s semifinal clash.

But Weidler isn’t concerned about that.

“We’ll be ready,” he said. “Our guys will be anxious and ready to go. I don’t think we’ll have any letdown affect us tomorrow.”

Neither is Johnsrud.

“Sure, the kids are down a little bit,” he said. “We came to the state tournament to win three games, and the kids are focused on that. When we do get to play, they’ll be ready to go.”

Joe Mellenbruch covers high school sports and general assignments. Follow him on Twitter @Mellenbruch_MDN.