The Minot High baseball team's doubleheader with Bismarck showed just how unpredictable the sport can be.
The Magicians suffered their worst loss of the season in Game 1, eking out one hit in a 20-1 loss in a West Region contest Friday. Prior to the 19-run defeat, Minot's most lopsided loss was to Mandan by seven runs.
Minot returned to its winning ways in Game 2, salvaging a series split with a 9-4 victory. The Magicians scored seven runs over the final two innings to avoid their first series sweep of the season.
Bismarck’s Coleton Ford rips a two-run double to right-center during a seven-run third inning against Minot on Friday at Corbett Field.
Minot’s Chandler Jacob allowed seven runs on five hits over 22/3 innings.
The first game is one the Magicians will surely want to forget. Bismarck teed off on whomever they sent to the mound and Minot couldn't get anything going with the bats. The only run the Magicians scored was unearned in the first inning. Minot senior Chandler Jacob scored from second when Bismarck left fielder Jaxon Ford couldn't squeeze a ball off the bat of classmate Brady Lampert.
That was the only highlight for the Magicians (6-4 overall, 3-2 region) in the opener as the Demons registered 20 unanswered runs in the mercy-rule shortened contest. Minot didn't help its pitching staff in the field, committing six errors.
"They weren't focusing," Minot coach Pete Stenberg said. "They were thinking about their last at-bat or the last play they had on the defensive side. Baseball is a long game. What's in the past is in the past and you gotta forget about that and move on."
Bismarck (8-4, 4-2 region) batted through the order in both the third and fourth innings, sending 26 hitters to the plate. All nine batters recorded a run and six registered RBIs. Bismarck's Coleton Ford went 2-for-5 with a double and 4 RBIs. Ty Oakland and Ben Hildestad also had multiple hits for the Demons and Tre Kautzman took Minot sophomore Ben Bolinske deep in the seventh for a two-run homer.
"We never set a goal of what we're going to score, but you want the kids to execute a game plan at the plate and, for the most part, they did that," Bismarck coach Jim Patton said. "They were patient, they got the pitch count up a bit and when they got something they could drive they did. Success breeds success."
Stenberg made more trips to the mound than he'd prefer, using four pitchers over five innings. Jacob got the start, lasting 22/3 innings - the longest outing for Minot in Game 1 - surrendering seven runs on five hits. A two-out error in the third turned a two-run inning for Bismarck into a six-run frame.
Minot senior Demitry Zafra relieved Jacob in the third, but retired just two batters. He struck out Kautzman to open the fourth, but hit Kole Bauer and Oakland in a span of four pitches and was pulled for Hunter Duttenhefer. Duttenhefer didn't make it out of the inning, surrendering seven runs on three hits. He recorded one out.
"It comes down to throwing strikes and getting the ball down," Stenberg said. "Also, you gotta be able to put the bat on the ball yourself. We gotta start producing some runs. Get a little offense going to help our pitchers out and that will lighten their load up as they go through the first couple innings."
Bolinske pitched the remaining 11/3 innings as Bismarck added four more runs.
Minot's first hit of the series came with two outs in the bottom of the fifth when Duttenhefer reached on an infield single.
The Magicians fell behind 4-2 heading into the bottom of the third inning of Game 2 before their bats got going. Lampert homered to left to lead off the frame and Bolinske scored from second on an RBI single by senior Jacob Holmen to tie the game.
"It's not fun losing 20-1, so we all wanted a little bit of revenge," Bolinske said. "We came back better the second game and came out with the 'W.'
Bolinske broke the game open with a bases-clearing double to deep center to give Minot an 8-4 lead. Bolinske crushed a 3-2 pitch that one-hopped to the fence, allowing Jacob, Duttenhefer and Lampert to score. Bolinske would score on a wild pitch.
"I've been struggling lately and it just feels good to get a hit," Bolinske said. "I saw my pitch and I took advantage of it."
Lampert picked up the win on the mound in relief of Travis Walker. Lampert allowed one run on two hits over four innings, striking out four.
Minot travels to Century today at noon.
Mike Kraft covers Minot High athletics. Follow him on Twitter @MKraft24_MDN.