GRAND RAPIDS — Sam Harting and Steph Neugebauer combined their efforts to win two of three games Thursday and lead the Central Lakes College Raiders to the championship round of the double-elimination Region 13B tournament Friday.
Harting pitched three complete games while Neugebauer dominated at the plate, going 8-for-10 on the day, including four home runs.
The Raiders face Itasca at 10 a.m. Friday and need to defeat the Vikings twice for the championship and right to advance to next week’s national tournament.
The day didn’t start well for the Raiders as they let an early 8-0 lead slip away in the final four innings of Game One, losing 12-8 to North Dakota State College of Science.
“We had the game in hand and we let it slip away,” said CLC coach Greg Medeck.
Neugebauer was 3-4 with a home run and Dani Thiesse was 5-5 with a double. Harting helped her cause by going 3-4 at the plate.
In Game Two, CLC held a three-run lead going into the bottom of the seventh, only to see Northland rally to tie in the bottom half and force extra innings. The Raiders bounced back to win 7-4 in the eighth.
Neugebauer hit another home run while going 2-3 and Thiesse added another double to finish 2-5.
Game Three saw the Raiders avenge their earlier loss to NDSCS, winning 9-7 as Neugebauer exploded offensively with two home runs and going 3-3 with six RBIs, including the game-winning RBI with a single in the sixth.
Katie Boody added a home run and finished 2-3 and Hallsey Olson was 2-2.
“We’re in the exact same spot as last year, needing to beat Itasca twice to get to the nationals,” Medeck said.
Last year, the Raiders lost every regular-season game with Itasca and the Vikings took the first game in the championship series, ending CLC’s hopes.
This year, CLC is 4-2 against Itasca going into the region tournament.
Central Lakes 8 18 3
NDSCS 12 17 0
WP: Amber Denney. LP: Sam Harting. 2B: Dani Thiesse. HR: Steph Neugebauer.
Central Lakes 7 11 1
Northland 4 6 2
WP: Sam Harting. 2B: Thiesse. HR: Neugebauer.
Central Lakes 9 10 0
NDSCS 7 10 1
WP: Sam Harting. LP: Amber Denney. HR: Neugebauer (2), Katie Boody. Overall: CLC 20-14. Next: CLC vs. Itasca 10 a.m. Friday at Grand Rapids for region championship.