LIDGERWOOD, N.D. — Prior to Thursday, it had been awhile since the Valley City Post 60 American Legion baseball team had to hit off Wahpeton pitcher Jeremy Bontjes. By Post 60 coach Jason Beilke's count, It had been roughly two years since he pitched against Valley City at the Sectional tournament in 2010.
So much for getting reacquainted.
Bontjes threw a no hitter in Wahpeton's 11-0, five inning win over Post 60 in the semifinals of the Section 1 tournament in Lidgerwood.
"Jeremy's a very good pitcher," Beilke said. "He missed all last year with arm troubles but we saw him two years ago, and we was very good back then."
The loss sets Valley City up for an elimination game at 7:30 tonight against the winner of a 5 p.m. game between Kindred and Harwood.
The winner of the 7:30 game will play Wahpeton Saturday afternoon for the Section 1 championship.
Beilke said in Thursday's game, Bontjes used mixed his small arsenal of pitches, kept them them low and hit his spots. He finished the game with nine strikeouts and the only two Valley City batters that reached base did so on walks.
"He's a good pitcher," said Valley City designated hitter/first baseman Josh Magnuson. "He changes it up and that's about it. We should have hit him better than we did."
Magnuson had one of Valley City's walks, reaching in the second inning. Spencer Meyer later reached base in the fifth.
Pitcher Austen Meyer used a mix of moving pitches to keep Wahpeton at bay for the first two innings. He allowed only one runner to reach base, on a walk, in both those innings and started the game with four straight balls hit to Josh Gilbertson at shortstop.
It wasn't until the third inning that Wahpeton started to gain some momentum.
Wahpeton started the inning with two straight walks. The third batter bunted to Meyer who made a tough throw to first base, although the player covering the base was involved with a collision with the runner, which allowed a run to score.
A double by Bontjes, Wahpeton's first hit of the game, scored the other two runners. Bontjes then scored on the next hitter's single to give Wahpeton a 4-0 lead.
The inning eventually ended on Wahpeton's 10th batter, but no further runs were scored.
The struggles continued into the fourth inning. The leadoff hitter was hit by a pitch. The next batter sacrifice bunted him to second. After a single and another walk, Austen Meyer was replaced on the mound by Spencer Meyer, who also struggled to stop Wahpeton. Seven of the first nine batters in the inning scored.
Beilke was pleased with Austen Meyer's pitching and said he did well in a "big game" despite not having thrown in many recently.
"Austen threw very well today," Beilke said. "We had chances to get out of that last inning and didn't quite get out of it."
Valley City's players will have to wait and see which opponent — Harwood or Kindred — they'll play Friday, but the goal remains the same.
"Whoever we face, we'll have to play good baseball to beat," Beilke said.