It was 1998 when high school baseball started in Langdon. After many years of only playing American Legion baseball, a high school program was developed and sanctioned with Larry Geisen being the first head coach in team history. After 23 years with one state tournament appearance and several close calls, heart-wrenching losses and lots of gut bunches, the Cardinals finally got it done and won their first-ever Class B High School Baseball Championship at a tournament held in Jamestown at Jack Brown Stadium June 3-5. The Cards won their first title in convincing fashion, allowing just four runs in three games played (you can find complete coverage of their tourney run on this week's sports page).
This year's team had five seniors, most of which went through three years of getting so close to winning the Region 4 Tournament but lost each time to some very talented Park River-Fordville-Lankin clubs. We talked with the three senior Cardinals starters about finally reaching the top of the mountain, along with Coach Josh Krivarchka, who won Class B High School Baseball Coach of the Year, while the Cards Simon Romfo won Class B Senior Athlete of the Year.
There were so many highlights from so many players in the tournament, but one that stuck out was the performance of Munich senior Cooper Zimmer in the title game, a 9-1 win over LaMoure-Litchville-Marion. It was at least 100 degrees during every game the Cards played in the tourney, and Zimmer said, "Playing in the 100 degree temps was hard at first, but your body got used to the heat after a few innings. We had some parents bring coolers filled with water and another cooler filled with ice and towels. Pitching in the heat felt pretty good, actually. It kept my arm loose, so it didn’t get stiff sitting in the dugout or on the base pads. It was warm up there on the mound, but when you get in and out of innings quickly it makes it so you aren’t up there overheating." We also asked him to compare a state baseball title with three state football titles, which he said, "Winning the baseball title feels a little more special because it is the first one that we got, and we worked so hard in the years prior but came up just short. It means a lot to do something so special for the community, former teammates, and all the people that have supported us throughout all of our sports." Cooper pitched a complete game in to LaMoure, throwing just 87 pitches, and also had three hits at the plate.
Like Zimmer, this is the fourth state championship for Langdon seniors Grant Romfo, Simon Romfo, Alex Clutchie and Drew Simpson, adding the baseball championship to with three football crowns. On winning a first-ever state title in baseball along with three in football, Simon said, "Winning in baseball feels a lot different because it was the first time, I think. In football, we started repeating, and it was awesome everytime, but there is nothing like winning for the first time. It is always a special feeling." Grant also added, "It was different in that baseball was a three-day tournament, so we had to come focused and ready to play, whereas, in football - we on play one game. It feels great after coming so close so many times and finally getting together and bringing home the communities a state championship." Simon is now Senior Athlete of the Year in both high school baseball and Class A 11-man football, which he said, "It feels amazing to be named senior athlete in two sports. It's something I'm really proud of, but I know I couldn't have done it without any of my coaches and teammates, especially Grant. We've always pushed each other, and I feel like he deserved these awards just as much as I did."
Coach Krivarchka had this to say when looking back at the tournament and the first title, "It is a great accomplishment for these kids. They have put a lot of time in over the years and had many successes in the sport of baseball. To cap it off with a state high school championship is special. The losses to Park River over the years really stung and really motivated these kids. We knew going into the championship game that Cooper would throw strikes, and we would have to make plays behind him. Cooper did what he has done all season for us on the biggest stage. I thought what made us the most complete team in the state was our ability 1-9 to put the ball in play and make it tough on opposing defenses. Our freshman and sophomores really stepped it up near the end of the season and did a tremendous job for us. We got a lot of big two-out hits in the tournament that really shifted the tide in our direction."
We also asked Coach K about coaching Grant and Simon for the final time, "It will be different not coaching Simon and Grant. They were great leaders for our younger guys, and their ability to come through in huge situations will be greatly missed. They have left a lasting impact on our community, and they are special young men that have a bright future ahead of them."
The future is bright for all five Cardinals seniors -- Simon will be attending UND and be playing football there in the fall; Grant will be doing the same at NDSU; Cooper signed to play baseball at Mayville State University while Alex will be a Comet football player; and Drew will attend Army National Guard Camp in the fall. It's also a bright future for the Cardinals baseball program, as they have several talented players back for next year and several more waiting in the wings.
It may have taken 23 years for the Cardinals to get their first title, but it was well worth the wait. The communities of Langdon, Edmore and Munich should be extremely proud of this well-earned accomplishment.