The pursuit of victory can cause an athlete to do strange things.
In the middle of his two-hit gem against Grand Forks on Wednesday, Minot Vistas pitcher Austin Berntson ate plain ketchup in the dugout in an effort to counteract leg cramps.
The condiment must've helped because the recent Minot High School graduate summoned the strength to finish a brilliant 10-strikeout, two-hit performance in the Vistas' 3-1 American Legion win at Jack Hoeven Park.
Minot pitcher Austin Berntson throws near the end of his two-hitter against Grand Forks on Wednesday at Jack Hoeven Park. The Vistas won 3-1 after losing the first game of the doubleheader 9-5.
"It tastes really bad but I guess it worked a little bit," said Berntson, who was limping in between pitches during the sixth inning. "In the seventh inning it finally kicked in and I didn't have another cramp."
The lefthander kept Grand Forks (18-7 overall, 8-2 state) at bay with a heavy dose of fastballs. The visitors got both their hits and their lone run in the top of the first inning, and Berntson allowed just three walks from there.
"We had a difficult time putting the ball in play and that was the difference in the game," Grand Forks coach Gabe Dahl said. "Certainly the guy on the bump controlled the tempo for them and held us down."
The top of Minot's order scratched a run across in the third inning as Sheldon Marmon and Marcus Quist connected on back-to-back one-out singles. Vistas cleanup Micah Holmen drove in Marmon with a base hit up the middle.
The Vistas (12-17, 4-6) finished with nine hits. Quist had a go-ahead RBI single in the fifth and Braden Lysne drove in Kolton Larson, who doubled to the left-field fence, for an insurance run in the sixth.
"Both those kids work extremely hard," Minot coach Todd Larson said of Quist and Lysne. "Whether they're in the lineup or not, they're always cheering on their teammates, they hustle on and off the field so it's hard right now to keep those two out of the lineup and today they were rewarded for their hard work."
But the obvious star of the game was Berntson, who kept his teammates in the game by staying on top of Grand Forks' hitters. Neither team committed an error.
"When a pitcher falls behind, it's kind of hard to stay out there and be like 'Oh gosh, I wish we were in the dugout,' " Lysne said. "When a guy's out there throwing strikes and making strikeouts, not only does it help the defense by not putting any pressure on them but it helps us mentally. It makes us ready to go."
The Vistas had only one error in the first game of the doubleheader but that miscue spiraled into a devastating inning.
With one run already across in the top of the third, Grand Forks first baseman Nick Moe hit a two-out grounder that got past Vistas shortstop Caleb Fornshell. The visitors would score six runs in the pivotal inning of their 9-5 win.
Minot's Hunter Oothoudt batted 3-for-4 with two doubles in game one.
The Vistas host Williston at 4 p.m. Tuesday at Jack Hoeven Park.