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JC Brager slugs past Judds Brothers to clinch spot in Legion state tournament
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LEGION BASEBALL

JC Brager slugs past Judds Brothers to clinch spot in Legion state tournament

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Connor Wilken is a fighter, and it was a trait that he carried with him Monday.

Behind clutch hitting and strong pitching by Wilken, JC Brager worked their way into the state tournament with a 15-1 win over Judds Brothers.

“He (Wilken) didn’t have all of his pitches and he goes down a lot,” head coach Montana Jones said. “But he grinds it out. He is going to compete. He’s probably the best competitor that we got and he’s going to finish at the end.”

Wilken started on the mound and threw the maximum 105 pitches in 4 2/3 innings. He allowed just one earned run on three hits and five strikeouts.

“After the first inning, I usually settle down,” Wilken said. “I call my curveball, get it over the plate and just start throwing strikes. As the game gets on, I get stronger and stronger and that helps a lot.”

Each of JC Brager’s first five runs of the game came with two outs. It’s something Jones and his staff has worked on with their hitters all summer.

“Our philosophy is to just hit hard balls in play and make the defense make a play,” Jones said. “We have not struck out a whole lot in this district tournament and forced teams to make plays and when you do that, you are going to put yourself in position to make plays.”

JC Brager put the pressure on early. Wilken and Ethan Steer both hit two-out RBI singles in the first inning.

Three more runs scored in the third, with Connor Pfundt driving in two runs on another two-out single. Ethan DeBuse followed Pfundt up with a double to right-center.

Wilken drove in his second run of the game in the two-run fourth inning.

Eight runs scored in the sixth inning for JC Brager on five hits, two hit batters and a walk. Mason Masur hit a three-run double and Ethan Steer hit an RBI single and triple in the inning.

Judds Brothers took advantage of a single, walk and passed ball to score their only run of the game in the first.

After missing out from the state tournament during the spring season, JC Brager is eager to get to compete next week. But they still have a chance at a district title on Tuesday.

“We are just going to have to fight, be a dog,” Wilken said. “We can’t give up now. You might as well beat them. It’s going to be tough but that is all right.”

Anderson Ford 6, Carpet Land 4: Cooper Wesslund faced one batter Monday, and it was a big one, shutting the door to help Anderson Ford hold off Carpet Land. Wesslund preserved a 6-4 win after Carpet Land loaded the bases in the bottom of the seventh inning of the A-5 District Tournament at Den Hartog Field. Anderson Ford will face JC Brager Tuesday at 4 p.m., with the winner facing Carpet Land to follow. JC Brager, Anderson Ford and Carpet Land have all advanced to the Class A state tournament.

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