MANDAN - Bismarck Governors pitcher Austin Zorn is aware of his tendency to struggle in the first inning of his starts.
The Minot Vistas tagged Zorn for two hits to open their American Legion Class A state tournament game Wednesday in Mandan, but failed to capitalize.
They didn't get many more chances.
Daniel Allar/MDN • Minot Vistas second baseman Marcus Quist attempts to turn a double play as Bismarck's Jordan Kenner slides into second. Bismarck beat Minot 7-4 in the first round of the American Legion Class A state tournament at Veterans Memorial Ballpark in Mandan.
The Minot State University rising sophomore settled in, pitching into the ninth inning to lead No. 4 Bismarck to a 7-4 win.
"I seem to struggle in the first, but then I find it," Zorn said. "When I was at Minot State I did the same thing. There were times when I really struggled in that first inning, but after that I threw well, kept the ball down and I got people out."
The righthander had 10 strikeouts Wednesday, including two to get out of the first-inning jam.
Zorn was matched early by Vistas pitcher and MSU teammate Ben Magnuson, who retired the first seven batters he faced and allowed just two hits through four innings.
The Governors (32-11) finally broke a scoreless tie in the fifth. Bismarck loaded the bases with one out before a fielder's choice plated the first run of the game.
Preston Tescher and Alex Bray recorded back-to-back hits to drive in three more runs and give Bismarck a 4-0 lead.
The fifth-seeded Vistas (19-25) got one run back in the top of the sixth when Bray lost a routine fly ball off the bat of Austin Berntson in the sunlight. The hit drove in Brock Krueger, who reached base with a two-out single.
Magnuson tossed seven-plus innings, allowing seven runs - six earned - on nine hits. The Governors chased Magnuson from the game with three runs in the eighth.
"That tough (fifth) inning kind of depleted what we had going," Vistas left fielder Braden Lysne said. "But overall I feel like Ben threw really, really well for us and we had a chance with him on the mound."
Bray, in particular, hurt Minot. The Bismarck cleanup batted 3-for-4 with a double and a triple.
"He's a good player," Vistas coach Todd Larson said. "They're full of very good athletes. We left the ball up to him and he found the gaps."
The Vistas scored one run in the eighth and two in the ninth, but couldn't complete the comeback. Lysne hit 2-for-3, including a triple off the right-field wall. Krueger and Berntson also had two hits apiece.
The Vistas play the loser of this morning's game between No. 1 Fargo and No. 8 Jamestown at 5 tonight. Jamestown beat No. 9 Dickinson 2-1 to open the tournament.
"We gotta bounce back tomorrow and see what happens," Larson said. "We gotta hit, you gotta score runs at this tournament."
Bismarck advances to play the Fargo-Jamestown winner at 2 p.m. Friday.