Ryan picks up much-needed win over Rugby

Bishop Ryan’s baseball team has struggled in recent weeks.

And with the season heading down the home stretch, the Lions have been looking for ways to break out of their funk.

With two key conference games this week at Max-Garrison and Central McLean, the Lions looked at Saturday’s non-region doubleheader at Jack Hoeven Park as a way to right some wrongs.

And while Saturday wasn’t a complete success, there were enough positives to give Ryan confidence entering the final week of the season.

Sophomore Caden Shean pitched five strong innings to lead the Lions to a 14-5 win over Rugby at Hoeven Park. Earlier in the day, Ryan dropped an 11-4 decision to Lewis & Clark-Parshall.

“We got down a run against Rugby, and in between games we talked about jumping on people, and we got three runs in the first and that allowed us to do some of the fun things,” Ryan coach Fred Nelson said.

The Lions allowed four first-inning runs in their loss to the Wildcats.

Rugby senior Blaine Rosencrans singled home junior Anders Johnson to give the Panthers their lone lead of the contest.

The Lions battled back in their half of the first. Ryan sent eight batters to the plate and plated three off them to quickly snatch the lead.

Senior Jesse VerBruggen drew a bases-loaded walk to score the first run. Freshman Mason Hedberg followed with an RBI single, and senior Jamison Baier added a. RBI ground out.

“I’m happy with how we swung it,” Nelson said.

After Shean quickly retired Rugby in the the top of the second, the Lions took control of the game in their half of the second.

Ryan scored 11 runs on six hits in the inning that saw 11 different Lions take a swing. Sophomore Alex Burckhard had a two-run double in the inning, while Baier had a two-run single. Hedberg and junior Joey Zeece also had RBI singles.

“I felt like I threw pretty well,” Shean said. “I got in a rough patch there in third.”

The Lions had the opportunity to end the game on a 10-run rule, but Rugby responded.

The Panthers plated four runs in the third to keep the game alive.

Senior Evan Burckhard drove home three with a bases-clearing double.

“I just didn’t put the ball in the right spot and they took advantage,” Shean said.

After the double by Burckhard, Shean retired six of the next seven batters to get to the fifth.

And in the fifth, Shean recorded the first two outs before allowing three straight singles to load the bases. However, he struck out Rugby junior Kyle Ebach to end the game.

“He’s not going to dominate people,” Nelson said. “But he is going to make people beat him.”

Shean allowed five runs on eight hits. He struck out three and walked none.

Rugby senior Hunter Hager suffered the loss. He allowed seven runs on four hits in just one inning of work.

The Rugby pitching staff walked 10 batters, and hit two others, however, much of that may have been impacted by the 12-inning loss the Panthers had to Harvey-Wells County earlier in the day.

“I’m sure they were tired and wore down,” Nelson said.

Alex Burckhard paced Ryan at the dish, going 2-for-2 with three runs scored and two RBIs. Zeece was also 2-for-3 with three runs and two RBIs.

Earlier in the day, Lewis and Clark-Parshall plated four runs in the first and added five more in the fourth to claim the 11-4 win over the Lions.

Senior Austin Schenfisch, senior Albert Sween and and junior Marco Guerrero each went 3-for-4 for the Wildcats.

Clay Hornberger was the winning pitcher, while Burckhard took the loss for Ryan.

Nelson says the win over Rugby will help fix the recent struggles his team has experienced.

“Not just (the Lewis & Clark-Parshall game), but how we have been playing,” Nelson said. “We’ve got three big doubleheaders next week. Hopefully, we can take this momentum into them.”

Ryan plays at Central McLean on Tuesday and at Max-Garrison on Thursday before closing out the regular-season Saturday against Des Lacs-Burlington at Corbett Field.

Mark Jones covers high school sports and general assignments. Follow him on Twitter @hoopsfan27_MDN.