LANGDON - Before Thursday's second-round clash with Enderlin at the Class B American Legion baseball state tournament, Carrington pitcher Logan Clifton wasn't quite prepared for the best moment of his baseball career.
After the game was over - a 4-3, eight-inning triumph for Post 25 - he didn't mind the surprise one bit.
Clifton came off the bench in the top of the eighth, relieving starter Brady Smith with the game tied at 3, a pair of Railcats in scoring position and two outs. Three pitches later, Clifton induced a flyout from Enderlin leadoff man Waytt Aberle to nullify the threat.
Outfielder Brady Bickett (right) is mauled by his Carrington teammates moments after
driving in the winning run against Enderlin
during Thursday’s Class B American Legion baseball state tournament game in Langdon.
Moments later, the Carrington reliever led off the bottom of the inning. Two pitches into what coach Tim Ranum described as his "first at-bat in a month," Clifton roped a double to the corner in left.
He scored the winning run two batters later when Brady Bickett singled.
"I'm super proud of my teammates," said Clifton, grinning. "This is the farthest we've ever made it at the state tournament. For me, this moment ranks right at the very top, no question."
Carrington, which plays Thompson at 7 tonight for a spot in the championship play-in, trailed for most of the game, including a 3-1 deficit in the sixth.
The only other lead Post 25 acquired came in the bottom of the third via Easton Paeper's RBI double to left.
But Carrington's advantage lasted two pitches into the fourth. Enderlin shortstop Spencer Gillund wasted no time, raking his seventh home run of the summer - a solo shot to left - to tie the game.
Runs in both of the next two innings gave the Railcats a two-run cushion heading to the bottom of the sixth. Even at that point, Carrington's resolve was strong.
"We just had to stay up. That's what we were telling each other," Bickett said. "We know we can hit the ball, and we all knew that we could make it happen."
Said Ranum: "At that point we only had one hit, so we kinda figured that we'd have to get the bats going at some point. We were fortunate to do enough to keep hanging around, battled through some errors. I knew it'd be close because (Enderlin) is a heck of a team."
Smith nearly went the distance for Carrington on the mound.
He threw 7 2/3 innings, allowing three runs - two earned - on eight hits and two walks, striking out six.
"Brady pitched a heck of a ballgame, and I'm afraid he might get kind of overlooked now," Ranum said. "If you would have told me that he was gonna give up only three runs, I would have been tickled pink."
Now, Post 25 is one of two teams left with an unblemished tournament record.
But with just five runs scored between its two victories, Carrington hopes to improve its production at the plate, Ranum said.
"We're not gonna keep winning with five hits total. It's just not gonna happen," he said. "Hopefully our sticks come around, and if they do, we've already been playing well without hitting. It's about time we start clicking in all three facets.
"I'm excited with where we're at, but I know we can play better, too."
Joe Mellenbruch covers Legion baseball and general assignments. Follow him on Twitter @Mellenbruch_MDN.