Striking out the side in order is one thing.
And it’s something Minot High senior Liam Owens accomplished on three separate occasions on Friday.
But Owens one-upped himself and logged a rare four-strikeout inning during Game 2 of a doubleheader against St. Mary’s at Corbett Field.
Needless to say, Owens was locked in.
“I was just doing my job and I had confidence in my defense, as usual, and I just slowed down, and just focused on throwing strikes, and hitting the glove and it worked out,” Owens said.
Owens fanned 13 Saints as the Magicians won the nightcap 4-1. Minot got a strong pitching performance from junior Noah Tate in the opener en route to a 4-2 win.
“Liam had a real nice game and I still think he can throw better,” Minot High coach Pete Stenberg said. “He’s got to be a little more certain about where he’s placing the ball, but his off-speed stuff was working really, really well in the latter half of the game, and that was freezing some kids and that makes his fastball look that much better.”
Owens threw six innings of work in the nightcap. He carried a no-hitter into the fourth inning, allowing just two hits on the day and one run.
“My curveball had a lot of drop,” Owens said. “I was getting a nice 12-6 drop out of it. My slider had a few bites to it. The key for me was just slowing down and focusing on my movement and really snapping it down.”
And Owens helped out his own cause at the dish.
Owens walked twice and hit a two-run single in the third inning that staked Minot to a 3-0 advantage.
The Saints got one back in the fourth, but Minot junior catcher Creighton Rudolph added an insurance run with his RBI-double in the sixth and sophomore Carson Tonini needed just 12 pitches to retire the side in order for the save.
“Carson ins going to come in and throw strikes and challenge kids,” Stenberg said. “He had pretty good zip on his fastball and then he throws in his changeup and he’s had a success coming in, in relief and we are really happy with that.”
Rudolph had another solid game at the plate in the opener – logging two doubles, a single and an RBI – and that coupled with Tate’s outing was pretty much all Minot needed.
“Both games their pitchers threw really well,” St. Mary’s coach Mike Feldman said.
Much like Owens, Tate carried a no-no into the fourth inning, but it was in that frame where Tate got himself in some trouble.
Not only did Tate surrender the no-hitter in the fourth, but he also lost the shutout and the lead, yielding two runs.
But Minot responded.
And it was the top of the order that did so.
Rudolph tied the game in the bottom of the fourth with an RBI double while junior second baseman Garrett Larson and senior shortstop Conor Taney logged back-to-back RBIs, giving the Magicians a 4-2 edge.
Senior left fielder Austin Burckhard also had an RBI double on the day as the Minot’s 1-4 hitters, combined to go 5-for-10 in the opener.
“That’s why they are up in that top spot,” Stenberg said. “There are expected to come though and that’s what they did tonight.”
Sophomore Colby Enns struck out one and en route to a three-out save.
Minot hosts Bismarck Legacy on Tuesday.
John Denega covers Minot High athletics, Minot State softball and general assignments. Follow him on Twitter @JohnDenega_MDN.