"The best field in the Upper Midwest."
Ryne Hornecker, the coach of Minot's 14-year-old Babe Ruth League team, uses those seven words to describe Corbett Field.
For a few hours - actually, for three short, weather-delayed spurts - Hornecker's club took a break from its normal digs at Jack Hoeven Park and stepped onto that sacred baseball diamond along East Burdick Expressway.
Minot catcher Easton Bennett connects on a pitch in the third inning. He reached base on a fielder’s choice and later in the frame stole third base and scored.
"For these kids to take it up a step and play here is pretty special," said Hornecker, a former standout shortstop at Minot High School and Minot State University.
Corbett Field hosted four opening-round games of the 14-year-old Babe Ruth state tournament Friday and will hold the remainder of the event, which runs through Monday.
Fourth-seeded Minot will complete its first-round matchup with the Grand Forks Blue Demons today at 8 a.m. A pair of delays haulted the contest for a combined 1 hour, 24 minutes before the severe weather forced officials to suspend play for the evening with Minot leading 7-6 in the bottom of the fifth inning.
Second baseman Garrett Larson led the Magic City squad - which played as the visiting team - with a 3-for-3 performance including a triple and two runs scored. He echoed his coach's sentiments regarding the stadium.
"Watching the Legion teams growing up, it's just awesome playing here," said Larson, son of Minot Vistas coach Todd Larson. "It's an awesome atmosphere and a lot of fun."
Minot jumped on Blue Demons pitcher Wyatt Eagleson early, collecting nine hits in the first three innings to open a 5-0 lead. Those three frames lasted more than two hours due to lighting and rain.
Grand Forks tallied five runs in the fourth to tie it at 6 before Minot answered with one run in the fifth. Officials suspended the game because of a torrential downpour.
Larson is relieved this weather-delayed affair is in Minot. It could be advantageous, he says.
"They've got to go to a hotel," Larson said. "We get to sleep in our own beds and get a good night's rest. It's so much better."
Hornecker played Babe Ruth and Legion baseball in MInot, but says he can't remember the last time his hometown hosted a Babe Ruth-level state tournament. He'd love for his team to make this year a special one - weather permitting, that is.
"With these type of state tournaments, the more you win, the bigger the crowds are going to get," Hornecker said. "That's something we stressed to these kids is go out and play baseball the right way and good things will happen. Let's win a few games and have that crowd get bigger and bigger and hopefully end with us dogpiling on Corbett Field, winning the state championship."
Ryan Holmgren covers Legion baseball and high school sports. Follow him on Twitter @ryanholmgrenMDN.