MANDAN - Due to rain in the Mandan area Friday, the Minot Vistas had a day to come down from their thrilling 3-2 win Thursday over Jamestown in the American Legion Class A state tournament.
Two of Friday's four scheduled games were moved to today, including No. 5 Minot's 9 a.m. loser-out game against No. 3 Grand Forks. The Royals lost 3-0 Friday to No. 2 West Fargo and pitcher Tanner Dahl, who tossed a complete-game three-hitter despite a six-hour break in the middle of his outing.
"It would've been nice to play today but I think we'll carry that momentum over to tomorrow morning," Minot coach Todd Larson said. "The kids know they can do it, they just have to go out there and give it their best effort."
Minot Vistas pitcher Austin Berntson threw a complete game in his team’s 3-2, come-from-behind win over Jamestown on Thursday at the American Legion Class B state tournament in Mandan.
Part of that confidence stems from Minot and Grand Forks splitting their two regular-season meetings. The rest comes from the way the Vistas beat Jamestown - with consecutive clutch hits in the bottom of the ninth inning.
"There were a lot of (players) that were pretty tightened up," Vistas pitcher/outfielder Ben Magnuson said, "but I think getting that first win with a lot of new kids on the team was big for us. I think it's gonna be a lot more relaxed the next couple days."
Whichever team advances through the losers' bracket will have to win three games today to earn a spot in Sunday's final.
"It could be a long day for somebody," Larson said. "Somebody might have to win three games, but they're 16-, 17-, 18-, 19-year-old young guys so they can do that. We just have to worry about the first game and hopefully we get a chance to play a second game tomorrow."
With Minot and Grand Forks each having used a couple of its top pitchers already in the tournament, the matchup could come down to which team's hitting is sharper. The Vistas scored a combined seven runs in two games and Grand Forks - after pinning 11 runs on Williston in their first game - were completely shut down by Dahl on Friday.
"We have confidence in our pitching staff as well as our defense," Grand Forks coach Nick Chine said. "The question mark - and it showed (Friday) - was our offensive production. You're not gonna beat anybody in a nine-inning game with just three hits."
Larson said he is prepared to pitch "everybody and anybody" to try to win the game against Grand Forks, although he didn't say who would start the game.
No. 6 Williston beat No. 9 Dickinson 9-5 Thursday in a game that ended too late for Friday's print edition of the Minot Daily News.
Cody Laber tossed a complete game for the Keybirds and Isaac Black, Jacob Brokaw and Jeff Beckman had three hits apiece and combined for four doubles.
The win earned the Keybirds a spot in a loser-out game 20 minutes after the conclusion of today's Minot-Grand Forks game. Williston will play No. 1 Fargo. Bismarck beat Fargo 4-1 on Friday night. Bismarck plays West Fargo today.