Through five innings Monday, the Minot Vistas played the type of baseball that caused them to enter a doubleheader against the Bismarck Reps All-Stars having lost five of six games.
The Vistas stranded runners and committed costly errors as they fell behind by four runs in their home opener at Jack Hoeven Park.
But a four-run sixth inning in game one gave Minot the momentum it needed to cruise past Bismarck - a Babe Ruth League team of 17 and 18 year olds - 6-5 and 8-4.
Minot’s Marcus Quist fires a pitch during the Vistas’ 8-4 win over the Bismarck Reps All-Stars on Monday at Jack Hoeven Park. Quist pitched five innings in relief to secure the win.
"It was very frustrating early in the (first) game," Minot coach Todd Larson said. "We seemed to have runners all over the place and we couldn't get that big hit. It just takes that one hit or two hits. All the sudden we woke up offensively, we pitched pretty well there at the end and made some good plays on defense. As frustrating as it is, it's nice to come out with a doubleheader sweep."
The Vistas (10-13) loaded the bases in the sixth inning as Bismarck pitcher Nate Dinga hit two batters and allowed a single to Minot center fielder Austin Maercklein. Sheldon Marmon hit a grounder to third, forcing a Bismarck error that scored two runs.
Vistas second baseman Marcus Quist drove in two more with a single, tying the score at 5.
After retiring Bismarck in the seventh, the Vistas loaded the bases again and won on a squeeze bunt by Ben Magnuson.
"I think sometimes it's almost easier when ... you know that no matter where it's pitched you gotta get it down," said Magnuson, who was told by coaches before his at-bat to expect the squeeze call. "Luckily I got it down."
The Vistas didn't execute as smoothly early in the game. They loaded the bases with one out in both the first and third innings, but killed those rallies with ground balls and managed just one run.
Bismarck scored two runs in the third inning and three more in the fourth as the Vistas misplayed grounders early in each inning. Minot's Austin Berntson allowed five runs, three earned, in six innings. Hunter Oothoudt relieved him in the seventh and grabbed the win.
The Vistas won game two on the strength of a seven-run fifth inning. Seven consecutive Minot batters reached base with two outs and Berntson, Brock Krueger, Kolton Larson, Ethan Stein, Alex Howell and Caleb Fornshell had RBI hits in the inning.
"You could see those kids relax after that first big two-out hit that got us going," Larson said. "The kids have worked so hard. They've been frustrated (during the losing streak), we've been frustrated as coaches, but they put some good swings on the ball in the fifth inning. We're very happy."
Berntson batted a combined 5-for-8 with two doubles.
"I was seeing it well and I think being back home, back in front of our home crowd, kind of made me wanna do better," Berntson said. "I just somehow brought everything together and hit well."
Krueger went 4-for-8 on the day with two RBIs and a double.
The Vistas host Fargo in a doubleheader Monday at Hoeven Park beginning at 4 p.m.