It didn’t come as a surprise that Fargo, North Dakota captured the championship in the Cal Ripken Midwest Plains Regional Tournament Sunday at the high school ballfield in Boonville.
After all, Fargo was the only team in the tournament to finish pool play undefeated at 3-0. However, after beating Liberal, Kansas 9-7 in the second semifinal on Sunday, Fargo would be tested again in the championship against Bemidji, Minnesota while trailing 2-1 after 5 1/2 before rallying back with two runs in the bottom half of the sixth for a 3-2 victory.
Fargo will now advance to the Cal Ripken 11-year-old World Series in Jensen Beach, Florida on August 6-13.
In the first semifinal game on Sunday, Bemidji led East Central, Colorado from start to finish for a 12-6 victory.
Bemidji, the second place finisher in the National Division behind Fargo, took the lead for good with a five run second inning and then added two in the third, three again in the fourth and one in each of the fifth and sixth innings of play.
As for East Central, they scored two runs in each of the second and third innings of play and one in the fourth and sixth innings.
Stonewall Gessner picked up the win on the mound for Bemidji while Rowdy Humrich took the loss for East Central. Gessner pitched the first three innings and gave up five runs on six hits and five walks while striking out three. Jack Lundquist then came in and pitched three innings in relief for the save and allowed one run on two hits while striking out two.
For East Central, Humrich pitched 3 2/3 innings and gave up nine runs on seven hits and four walks while striking out three.
Bemidji also out-hit East Central 10-8, with Stonewall Gessner going 3-for-3 with three singles and one RBI. Garry Morehart was 2-for-4 with a single, triple and one RBI while Jack Lundquist added two singles and two RBIs, Briggs Knott with one double and one RBI, Joey Fankhanel with one single and two RBIs, Jack McNallan with one single and Nick Johnson with one RBI.
For East Central, Mason Jaques went 2-for-3 with a single, double and three RBIs. Tad Eurich was 2-for-3 with a single and a double while Kacen Sederstrom added one single and two RBIs, Braydon Foss with one single and one RBI and Zach Thorson and Ahren Schubarth each with one single.
In the second semifinal, Fargo broke a 4-4 tie after three by outscoring Liberal 5-3 over the final three innings for a 9-7 victory.
Eli Sandvik was the winning pitcher in the game for Fargo while Gus Eylar took the loss for Liberal. Sandvik pitched three innings in relief of starter Hudson Stein and gave up three runs on five hits and one walk while striking out three. Eylar, meanwhile, pitched one inning in relief of starter Alex Schwindt and gave up three runs on two hits and two walks while striking out two batters.
Fargo also finished the game with eight hits, with  Eli Sandvik going 2-for-2 with a single and a triple. Liam Wicklow also had two hits with two singles and one RBI while Owen Thielges added one triple and two RBIs, Mason Klabo with one double and one RBI, Jonah DeJong with one single and one RBI, Kade Olhauser with one single and Malachi Werremeyer and Gus Werremeyer each with one RBI.
In the third place game, East Central rallied with two runs in the bottom half of the sixth to beat Liberal 9-8.
East Central opened the game with one run in the bottom half of the first only to have Liberal rally back with four in the top half of the third to go up 4-1. However, in the same inning, East Central exploded for five runs to make it 6-4. Liberal then scored two runs in the fourth and one again in the fifth and sixth innings to regain the lead at 8-7 only to have East Central rally with two in its half of the sixth for the win.
Tad Eurich picked up the complete game victory for East Central while Jhett Huffman took the loss for Liberal. Eurch pitched all six innings and gave up eight runs on 13 hits while striking out two.
Wyatt Stanko tripled and drove in two runs to least East Central, who was actually out-hit by Liberal 13-5. Tad Eurich finished the game with one double while Zach Thorson added one single and one RBI, Brady Simmons and Hunter Mitchek each with one single and Kacen Sederstrom with one RBI.
For Liberal, Alex Schwindt went 3-for-3 with three single and three RBIs. Ayden Juarez was 2-for-3 with two triples and two RBIs while Julian Juarez added two singles, Jhett Huffman with one triple, Gus Eylar with one single and one RBI and Carson Peters, Xavier Porras, Breton Spikes and Jadon Sautter each with one single.
In the championship game, Bemidji jumped out on top with one run in the top half of the first only to have Fargo rally back with one in the second to tie the game at 1-all. Meanwhile, after a scoreless third, Bemidji added one run to go up 2-1. Then, after another scoreless inning in the fifth, Fargo rallied back with two in the sixth for the come from behind victory.
Eli Sandvik picked up the win in relief for Fargo while Peyton Naedeau took the loss for Bemidji. Sandvik pitched two innings in relief of starter Mason Klabo and struck out three batters while walking one. Naedeau, meanwhile, pitched 5 1/3 innings and gave up three runs on six hits and one walk while striking out five.
Fargo also out-hit Bemidji 6-4, with Mason Klabo going 2-for-3 with two singles. Owen Thielges finished the game with one triple while Liam Wicklow and Coleston Senn added one single and one RBI each, Eli Sandvik with one single and Kade Ohlhauser with one RBI.
For Bemidji, Jack McNallan had one single and one RBI while Peyton Naedeau, Gary Morehart and Jack Lundquist added one single each.