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Iowa knocks off Fargo Little League team to win Midwest Regional Championship

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WESTFIELD, Ind. -- Iowa starting pitcher Brody Watson pitched five-plus solid innings to help lead his team to a 7-4 victory against the Fargo Little League team Saturday to win the Midwest Regional Championship.

Iowa advanced to the Little League World Series, which starts Aug. 16 in Williamsport, Pa.

“It’s a tough one. It stings a little bit,” Fargo manager Mike Rerick said. “We ran into a hot pitcher. That guy was lights out from the first inning on. He was tough to hit.”

Fargo was undefeated in the regional heading into the championship game with a 4-1 victory against Iowa earlier in the tournament.

“One game doesn’t define a team. We made a great run,” Rerick said. “They’re obviously all hurting quite a bit and us coaches are, too. It’s probably the hardest loss to take when you are this close.”

Iowa scored four runs in the bottom of the fifth inning to take a 7-0 lead heading into the final frame. Fargo, however, didn’t go quietly and rallied for four runs in its final at-bat.

“It just wasn’t meant to be,” Rerick said. “I like the idea that we battled.”

Connor Holm, Drew Rerick, Charlie Kalbrener, Landon Meier and Tommy Simon each had hits for Fargo. Holm, Rerick, Kalbrener and Meier also scored runs. Andrew Kankelfritz, Meier and Simon each drove in one run.

“It’s been an unbelievable experience,” Mike Rerick said. “These kids know that they’ve done something special.”

Fargo defeated state champions from South Dakota, Minnesota, Iowa and Nebraska on its run to the region championship game. Fargo’s win against Iowa earlier in the regional also came with Watson as a starter.

“This time he was a little bit better,” Mike Rerick said. “We just couldn’t get his pitch count up high enough.”

Connor Duong led Iowa going 2-for-3, including a home run and a triple. Watson went 1-for-3 with two RBIs. Watson pitched five innings with eight strikeouts and six walks. He left the game with no outs in the sixth inning after he reached the limit of 85 pitches.

“After today, It’s going to be down to eight teams in the country,” Mike Rerick said. “Our team has something to be proud of.”