Bulldogs aim to continue late-season momentum

Makoti wasn’t the only North Dakota American Legion No. 5 seed to qualify for its respective region championship tilt.

Burlington swept through the Class B West Region tournament last weekend, knocking off top-seeded Hazen and a host of other teams en route to a region title and a berth in this week’s Class B state tournament, which begins today in Langdon.

Their championship run was improbable, but Burlington coach Andrew Roach knew the Bulldogs had a chance to accomplish something special.

“I knew it wasn’t out of the question,” Roach said. “We had the talent to do it. It was just a matter of whether or not we could put it all together.”

The Bulldogs have been putting it all together in recent weeks. They’ve reeled off seven straight victories ahead of today’s first-round contest at 12:30 p.m. against Enderlin.

Their first victory of the region tournament came via a 5-3 result over Hettinger. Later that day, the Bulldogs toppled Hazen by the same score.

Two more wins handed Burlington the West Region crown, culminating in a 6-5 title-clinching final score on July 27.

Roach hopes last weekend’s success can inspire his players to continue performing in Langdon.

“They’re riding high. We like where we’re at right now,” Roach said. “The game plan is just continuing to stay aggressive. That’s the style that we’ve played all year, staying aggressive at the plate and on the base paths. We’ve just gotta go in and take care of business the way we have been.”

Defense and timely hitting were allies for Burlington in the region tournament. Solid pitching was also a contributing factor, highlighted by Alex Davy’s winning performance over the Bison.

“Our defense has gotten really solid over the summer,” Burlington infielder Justin Thomas said. “We really don’t make many errors anymore. Our fielders make the plays that we can. Like our coach always tells us, just control what you can.”

West Region runner-up Renville County opens the tournament at 9:30 a.m. against Southeast Region champion LaMoure. The Muskrats, seeded seventh in the region tournament, sent Hazen packing with a 4-3 victory.

Central Region champion Carrington, which clinched its title with a 7-6, eight-inning victory over Nelson County, will take on Northeast runner-up and tournament host Langdon. First pitch is scheduled for 6:30 p.m.

Joe Mellenbruch covers Legion baseball and general assignments. Follow him on Twitter @Mellenbruch_MDN.