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Published March 23, 2011, 03:22 PM

Mayville State Baseball Team Pitches in to Help Student Stranded by Storm

Mayville State head baseball coach Scott Berry surpassed 800 career victories this month. Tuesday night, he added one winter storm rescue to his resume.

By: Jeff Kolpack, Forum Communications

MAYVILLE, N.D. - Mayville State head baseball coach Scott Berry surpassed 800 career victories this month. Tuesday night, he added one winter storm rescue to his resume.

The Comets bus was returning from Mitchell, S.D., when it got stuck in ice and heavy snow at the Highway 200 interchange off of Interstate 29 – just 11 miles from home. On the other side of the bridge, in a ditch, was Mayville State student Kjerstin Bakke – a Berry family friend.

“A baseball coach and a baseball team were at the right place at the right time and you had a guy willing to take a risk,” said Steve Bakke, Kjerstin’s father and a former pastor at Fargo's Hope Lutheran Church who is now in New London, Minn.

How Berry knew she was in the ditch was a trail of phone calls that started with her father. With local law enforcement and service vehicles unable to reach her because of the poor conditions, Scott Bakke called Craig Richie, a friend and Fargo lawyer, to see if he knew of anybody who could help.

Richie contacted his friend Berry, who happened to be on I-29 less than 15 miles from the exit. The Comets’ game at Dakota Wesleyan earlier in the day lasted only two innings because of rain.

“It didn’t enter my head that we wouldn’t get home,” said Berry, who in 30 years of coaching has seen all kinds of travel conditions. “There was snow … but then we hit that (snow) batch at Highway 200.”

Kjerstin Bakke had been in her car about three hours when Berry and two Comet assistants reached her. Later, a tow truck got to the car and pulled it out, but with low fuel and no place to safely park her car near the Mayville bus, the decision was made to drive the seven miles back to Hillsboro.

It took about 45 minutes.

“It was scary,” Berry said.

Steve Bakke said the reason Kjerstin attended Mayville in the first place was because of Laurie Berry, Scott’s late wife who died last summer.

“She made Kjerstin feel right at home,” Steve Bakke said. “Scott stood in her place as the parent away from home.”

Meanwhile, the rest of the Comet team spent the night in the bus near the interchange. A farmer living nearby with a plow supplied the players with food and water in the morning until the bus was freed. It finally reached the Mayville campus about 11 a.m.

The final tally: 29 hours, two innings and one big assist.

“Scott Berry is incredible,” Steve Bakke said.

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