Tournament success is nothing new to this season's version of the Bismarck Reps.
After advancing to the Babe Ruth World Series championship game and winning the Chris Wenzel Memorial Tournament last summer, the core of that team is together again and picking up where they left off.
The Reps wobbled late Sunday afternoon, but hung on for a 5-4 win over the West Fargo Jets in the championship game of the Wenzel tournament at Municipal Ballpark. It was their only close game of the weekend. They won each of their first three games by the 10-run rule.
"Most of us have been playing together since we were nine years old," winning pitcher Nic Devine said. "We work really well together. We get along. It's going to be another good season."
Devine, who also has pitched for the Bismarck Governors this summer, was saved for the title game and delivered. He allowed just two hits over four scoreless innings with five strikeouts.
"Pitching for the Governors has been a great experience," he said. "I don't feel like I'm 100 percent yet. I'm just trying to throw strikes and let our defense do the work."
Troy Olson, coach of the Reps, knew his team was in good shape with Devine on the mound.
"He's good," Olson said of Devine, who will be a senior at Bismarck High in the fall. "When we're able to throw Nic out there we like our chances."
Neither team was particularly sharp as the wind howled in the near 90-degree heat.
The Reps led 5-0 entering the top of the seventh inning before things got interesting.
With just one hit -- of the infield variety -- the Jets closed the gap to 5-4 and had runners on second and third with two outs. But relief pitcher Carson Motschenbacher fanned Eastin Heisler on a 2-2 pitch to preserve the victory. Four walks and two errors by the Reps gave the Jets a chance to steal it late.
"It got a little exciting there at the end, didn't it?" Olson said. "Nobody has played a lot of baseball yet this season. You're going to have things happen like that. I really like the way we played all weekend. It was fun to see the kids out there playing good baseball."
The Jets committed three errors. Only two of the five runs charged to West Fargo left-handed pitcher Matt Heupel were earned.
Miles Stiefel lofted a double near the right-field line in the bottom of the second inning to score Noah Riedinger and Ryan Keup. Riedinger opened the uprising with a double that clanged off the glove of Jets' centerfielder Cullen Pellett.
Up 3-0, the Reps' fourth and fifth runs came on a gift.
With two on and two out, Riedinger sent a fly ball to shallow right field which was lost in the sun by two West Fargo defenders, allowing Motschenbacher and Carter Klipfel to score.
"We didn't swing the bats as well today but we were still able to scratch out a few runs," Olson said. "Being able to win a tournament early in the season like this, it's a nice springboard for the kids."
It's all part of the plan.
"We have high expectations for sure," said Devine, who also plays soccer at BHS. "We want to play good baseball, kick butt all over the state and do well in the postseason.
"After not getting to do anything this spring, we're just happy to be out here playing. We're going to make the most of it."
Reach Tribune sports editor Dave Selvig at (701) 250-8246 or email@example.com
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