VALLEY CITY, N.D. -- The Valley City State baseball team won a loser-out game at the North Star Athletic Association baseball tournament, defeating Dickinson State 8-5.
No. 8 seed Valley City State (20-34) advances to play either Waldorf University or Bellevue University at 5 p.m. Saturday in Valley City. Dickinson State, which entered as the No. 4 seed, ends its season with a 25-27 record. Whitaker nearly went the distance and earned the win for VCSU, allowing seven hits and five runs – three earned – in 8 1/3 innings. He walked two and struck out five. Sandoval faced just two batters, recording a strikeout and pop out for the save.
Valley City State struck first with a single run in the bottom of the first inning. Jared Meiklejohn led off the inning by lining a double down the right-field line. He moved to third on a wild pitch and then came in to score when catcher Austin Tennant's throw to third base sailed into left field.
Dickinson State threated in the fourth inning after Jake Young opened the inning with a double to deep center field. Whitaker was able to work out of the jam though, getting Dylan Skabo to pop out on a bunt attempt and then setting down Sagan Osborne and Jake Hignite on fly balls to the outfield.
The Blue Hawks took its only lead of the game with a four-run fifth inning. Ryan Mitchell had an RBI single in the inning and Dickinson took advantage of two Viking errors to score a pair of unearned runs for a 4-1 lead.
The Vikings answered right back with a pair of runs in the bottom of the fifth to make it 4-3. Brady Smith started the rally with a one-out single, and Ben Bruenjes followed with a double to put runners on second and third. Meiklejohn came through with a two-out single, pulling a liner through the hole at shortstop to score both Smith and pinch-runner Tyler Ukestad.
Valley City State regained the lead with a four-run sixth inning. After Jake Rambow opened the inning with a single, Dickinson pitcher Josh Schuller walked the bases loaded. Ben Bruenjes drew a two-out walk to score a run and tie the game at 4-4. Xavier Padilla then delivered the big blow, clearing the bases with a full-count single to right-center field, putting the Vikings ahead 7-4. VCSU threatened to score more, but pinch runner Mitch Scheer was thrown out at home plate trying to score on a double by Meiklejohn.
The Vikings extended the lead with a small ball run in the bottom of the seventh. Joe Demers led off the inning, moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Brady Anderson and then went to third on a wild pitch. Nate Bagby followed with a sacrifice fly to left field, driving in Demers for an 8-4 lead.
Dickinson State threatened in the top of the ninth, scoring one run to make it 8-5 and bringing the tying run to the plate with one out. But Sandoval came on in relief for VCSU, recording the final two outs for the save.
Meiklejohn went 4-for-5 at the plate with a run, two RBIs and three doubles. Padilla finished 1-for-4 with three RBIs. Ben Bruenjes doubled and drove in a run, and four other Vikings had one hit each. VCSU had eight runs on 10 hits and committed three errors.
Dickinson State scored its five runs on seven hits and committed three errors. Tyler Czech went 2-for-4 with a run scored, and Ryan Mitchel was 2-for-4 with two RBIs.
Josh Schuller took the loss for Dickinson after starting on the mound and going 5 2/3 innings. He gave up seven hits and seven runs, walked three and struck out seven.