Zepeda, West Fargo earn dramatic walk-off win over Tri-City Red
That's what West Fargo center fielder Tanner Zepeda was thinking when he stepped to the plate in the bottom of the seventh with two outs and a man on during a tie game.
He sent the 1-1 pitch from Tri-City Red pitcher John Solfest careening out of the infield, scoring Drake Flesche for the 6-5 walk-off American Legion baseball win over Minnesota state champion Tri-City Red.
The North Dakota state champs plated three runs in the bottom of the seventh for a come-from-behind finish in Game 3 of the Central Plains Regional Tournament on Wednesday, Aug. 8, at Dakota Community Bank & Trust Ballpark.
"Our coach always tells us to live in the moment and just breathe," Zepeda said. "That's something he's said from day one and since then, I've always tried to keep that close. I got in the box, took a breath and swung away."
Zepeda led the Patriots offense, going 3-for-4 with three RBIs. In the third inning, he drove in West Fargo's first go-ahead run.
Down 2-1, with two outs and the bases loaded, West Fargo head coach Jordan Rheault gathered his base runners and batter Zepeda. Following the meeting, Zepeda hit an RBI single, scoring two runs to give the Patriots a 3-2 lead.
"We were just trying to make sure we had a calm, disciplined approach and things of that nature," Rheault said. "And our base runners were aware of the situation, and kind of contact for scoring."
Tri-City Red, of New Brighton, Minn., answered in the bottom of the fourth.
After catcher Matt Herold doubled, Jonah Sparks walked and Brett Bateman singled. Carter Traczyk, who finished 3-for-5, drove in two runs with a single, putting the Red back on top 4-3. An RBI single from Sparks scored the fifth and final run for Tri-City in the top of the fifth.
The Red offense forced West Fargo to shift from pitcher to pitcher, seeing four different arms over the seven innings. Ryan Bourassa started the game for the Patriots, throwing 3 1/3 innings, allowing four runs on seven hits and walking three. Tristen Roehrich, Brayd Beyl and Jake Faircloth all put in time on the bump in relief.
"Not what I planned, but sometimes the game tells you some things," Rheault said. "The game told us that they were going to barrel up. They kept barreling up on different pitchers, so we had to try new pitchers. We trust our whole staff to come in and throw strikes. We just had to find a guy to come in and shut their swings down a bit."
West Fargo will face Millard West at 4:30 p.m. (MT) on Thursday, while Tri-City Red will compete with Wayzata (Minn.) at 11 a.m. (MT) in a loser-out contest.
TCR 011 210 0—5 13 1
WF 003 000 3—6 12 0
Ty Koehn (5), John Solfest (1.2) and Matt Herold. Ryan Bourassa (3.1), Tristen Roehrich (1.2), Brady Beyl (0.2), Jake Faircloth (1.1) and Dustin Mertz. W—Faircloth. L—Solfest.