North baseball ends state tournament drought with fifth place finish

After placing second in the Eastern Dakota Conference tournament, the Fargo North baseball team ended a five year state tournament drought with a fifth place consolation championship at the 2018 North Dakota Class A baseball tournament.

Fargo North started the season strong and finished the conference tournament as a co-runner-up, setting themselves up with a first-round matchup against Bismarck Century High School. All-state pitcher and Senior Athlete of the Year Cameron Blazek was on the mound to start the game as the Spartan hitters faced Century’s Jakob Olson.

Blazek said, “Going in we really just wanted to focus on enjoying the game and just play loose.” Blazek only let up six hits and didn’t walk a single batter but a strong first inning for the Patriots put them up 2-0.

The Spartans just couldn’t rally back and lost the tournament opener 3-0. Blazek finished the game with six hits allowed, five strikeouts, no walks, and a .800 strike percentage. Fargo North’s only hits came from Gabe Duncan and Caleb Fritel as Century’s Olson threw a complete-game shutout with five strikeouts. Century went on to win the state tournament.

“It was really tough to lose the opening round but we knew we still had an opportunity to play some more baseball,” Blazek said. “We came back the next day pumped to play.”

And the Spartans did come pumped to play. They bounced back the next day with a commanding 4-0 victory over Mandan High School. Things started to click again for Fargo North in the consolation semifinal. The team rallied together to beat the 4th-seeded Mandan and send them home on the second day of the tournament.

“We had a really strong pitching staff and our team chemistry was great. We really had fun playing together and that’s what made it enjoyable,” said Blazek of the team’s strength and resilience in the state tournament.

The win against Mandan set up a conference rivalry matchup with the West Fargo Packers in the consolation championship game. After splitting the regular season series, the Spartans knew they were going to have to play tough baseball against the Packers, who were the regular season champions. An upset loss to Minot High School on day one sent the Packers to the consolation bracket. Although the Packers played good baseball, North’s bats finally caught fire and the Spartans put up seven runs as West Fargo could only muster two. The Spartans clinched the consolation championship with the rivalry win.

Every team has the ultimate goal of winning a state championship each year. The Spartans did not reach that goal in 2018, but they were still proud of the progress they made throughout the season, leading them to a fifth place finish at the North Dakota Class A State Tournament.