Makoti upends Watford City, clinches title game berth
By JOE MELLENBRUCH
MAKOTI The Makoti crowd enjoyed Thursday’s upset win over Beulah. Fans were hoping for more Friday against second-seeded Watford City.
But it didn’t look good to start.
The Walleye jumped on Makoti starter Alex Nelson for five runs in the first two unearned putting the Mavericks in an early hole.
But Makoti’s misery was short-lived. Led by shortstop Austin Lee and catcher Jordan Nelson, the Mavericks delivered an onslaught over the final three innings en route to a 13-6 semifinal victory.
The win sends Makoti to the West Region tournament championship game.
“The kids just never gave up,” Makoti coach Kyle Giesen said. “They battled, they played confident and came through when they needed to. When they stay positive, good things happen for them.”
Adam Knudsvig got the Mavericks on the board in the fourth. By the end of the fifth, the game was tied at five.
After a quick Watford City run in the sixth, Makoti wasted no time in continuing its momentum. Lee reached safely with no outs after the Walleye’s third error of the night. Two batters later, a Luke Wollschlager single and a J.P. Guerrero double to left plated Lee for Makoti’s second equalizing run.
Jordan Nelson stepped to the plate next. Seconds later, the Mavericks led 8-6.
Nelson blasted a first-pitch fastball from Walleye starter Dakota Neether over the left-field fence. It was his first of the summer after hitting two during the high school season.
As far as he’s concerned, that homer ranks pretty high on his all-time list.
“It’s definitely at the top,” Nelson said. “I wasn’t doing so well, I think I was 0-for-3. I just saw a first-pitch fastball and decided to jump on it.”
“I can’t even express my happiness for him,” Giesen added. “He stepped up huge, and it’s a good confidence booster for everybody.”
The Mavericks poured on an additional five runs, further adding to Watford City’s woes.
After a relatively clean first four innings (one error), the Walleye committed four in the final three frames. They left nine men on base, five of which were left in scoring position.
“We didn’t respond very well, that’s the bottom line,” Watford City coach Pat Spacher said. “They got all the momentum, they played really well, and from the fourth inning on they took it to us.
“We’ve gotta do better going forward. It’s a pretty nice wake-up call before the state tournament.”
A single and a four-pitch walk got Watford City started in the first, followed by two Makoti errors that brought in the first two runs of the contest.
Mitch Liebel and Keegan Thompson provided RBI hits in the first, as well. Liebel then stole home to secure his team’s fifth run.
But the Watford City bats cooled after that, and Makoti’s were just getting started.
“We just kept doing what we always do: put the ball in play,” Lee said. “The hits will come, you just have to go up there with the same routine. It came around for us today, and we were able to string a few hits together and get some runs out of it.”
Beulah defeats Velva 6-4
After defeating Bottineau 10-2 earlier in the day, Velva then turned to the tournament’s top seed in Beulah for a consolation tilt.
The Cyclones jumped out to a 6-0 lead after two innings. It was all they’d need as they went on to win 6-4.
Beulah outfielder Hayden Norton notched the third home run of the tournament along with two RBIs. Cole Messerschmidt secured the victory on the mound for the Cyclones.
Velva will enter next weekend’s state tournament in Wahpeton as the West Region’s No. 4 seed.
Friday’s victory places Beulah into the championship game play-in against Watford City – a battle between the tournament’s top two seeds. Weather permitting, first pitch is scheduled for 10 a.m. today.
The title game begins 30 minutes after the consolation clash ends.
Joe Mellenbruch covers Legion baseball and general assignments. Follow him on Twitter @Mellenbruch_MDN.