WEST FARGO - A lack of timely hitting plagued Minot for much of the American Legion season's second half and proved the Vistas' ultimate doom.
Dickinson reliever James Kary struck out three straight batters with two runners on in the top of the ninth inning to earn the save and eliminate Minot from the Class A State Tournament on Friday.
The Vistas (25-22) left 12 runners on base in the 5-4 loss.
Minot catcher Hunter Oothoudt connects on a second-inning single in the Vistas’ season-ending loss to Dickinson on Friday in West Fargo. The Roughriders won 5-4 to eliminate Minot from the American Legion Class A State Tournament.
"We talked about having to hit in this tournament to have a chance at winning and two of the three games really didn't do much as far offense goes," Minot coach Todd Larson said.
Minot loaded the bases in a 2-2 tie with one out in the seventh inning, but failed to score. Dickinson (24-23) posted three runs off reliever Casey Ryan in the bottom half.
Vistas third baseman Brady Lampert scored on an error in the eighth inning to cut the deficit to two runs.
Kary, a Minot State University signee, took the mound with a runner on first base in the ninth and gave up two singles, including an RBI hit by Austin Berntson to score Marcus Quist. Berntson was 0 for 11 in the tournament before the hit, which swung the momentum back in Minot's favor. Kary responded by striking out the middle of the order.
"I've always liked closing," Kary said. "I've always liked being the guy at the end to finish it off - so I'm used to the position of it - but they got a couple of hits and (I) got a little nervous."
The nerves subsided after he caught Hunter Oothoudt looking. Grant Larson and Lampert followed swinging.
"I can't ask for any more than that," Dickinson coach Cory Hansen said. "I figured, well, if they're gonna beat us, we're gonna go with the best guy right here. There's no tomorrow. He's got one inning, so if they beat us then that's the way it is. (Kary) stepped it up big and that's senior leadership."
Taylor Kraenzel (4-3) earned the win after giving up two runs on five hits with three strikeouts in seven innings. Shawn Danielson (5-1) was the losing pitcher, giving up two runs on seven hits with three strikeouts in six innings.
Danielson gave up two runs on four straight singles in the sixth inning of an otherwise strong performance.
"I thought we pitched it well again for the first six innings," Larson said. "Shawn was outstanding on the hill We need to put up more runs ourselves during that period."
Ryan hit the first batter he faced in the seventh before giving up two sacrifice flies and an RBI single. Chandler Jacob got a strikeout to end the inning and held the Roughriders scoreless in the eighth.
Jacob and Brock Krueger led the Vistas with two hits apiece.
Minot opened the tournament with an 11-1 loss to Fargo on Wednesday, but rebounded with a 3-0 win over Mandan on Thursday. Austin Berntson had 18 strikeouts in the win, but also received little run support.
"We had an excellent season," Oothoudt said. "We played really good up until the last part of our season. We didn't hit the ball as well as we used to and our bats died and we couldn't give the pitchers run support. It all dealt with our bats."
Oothoudt, Berntson, Quist, Ryan, Brock Krueger and Caleb Fornshell played their final Legion game.
"They meant a lot to the program," Todd Larson said. "They bleed Minot Vista baseball. They'll make great alumni. That's what we like to see - young men like that being alumni coming back and watching the program."
The Vistas can return as many as 10 players next year.
Tim Chapman covers the Vistas and Minot High School athletics. Follow him on Twitter @chapmatp.