At friendly Corbett, Vistas roll to nine straight wins
The early season grace period of playing with unfamiliar teammates is over in North Dakota Legion baseball and the Minot Vistas have undeniably found their groove.
With production coming from every spot in the lineup and on the mound, the Vistas (17-8, 9-5 N.D. Legion) extended their winning streak to nine games on Friday with a sweep of Jamestown, 10-3 and 8-0, at Corbett Field, where they have won 12 contests in a row after dropping the home-opener.
“With this winning streak, they are believing they can win every time they show up,” Vistas coach Pat Arntson said. “I would say our competition has been equal home and away… I think they are just comfortable here. They are used to the routine. You don’t have to show up at the park as early or get on a bus.”
The first two innings in Game 1 were a scoreless stalemate. Great defense came to the aid of starting pitcher Eli Stewart multiple times, including a flashy 5-4-3 double play to get the Vistas out of the second inning.
Jamestown broke the deadlock in the third inning with three runs coming on a Dawson Douty ground-rule double, a Nolan Kratz groundout and a double from pitcher Ben Friebel.
The Vistas figured out how to score on Friebel’s sidearm action in the next half inning, as Derek Bartsch deposited a two-run single over the second baseman’s head
An inning later in the fourth, Paxten Wahlund crossed home plate on a wild pitch to tie the game at 3-3 and Creighton Rudolph hit an RBI double off the wall in right field to give the Vistas their first lead.
An errant throw trying to get a groundout at first base scored Johnny Tubbs and the next batter Alex Schimke lined a single to increase the lead to 6-3 in the bottom of the fifth inning.
“Their (pitcher) in Game 1 was really different by mixing up arm slots and he had thrown pretty well,” Arntson said. “Our guys just made him work and finally grinded out some runs. They are learning to win in a lot of different ways, rather than the ones where we just beat them – when they come out and hammer balls, it’s easy and they roll then. But now, the ones that are a little bit greasier and we have to battle later in games, I think they are starting to learn how to win those.”
Following a Jamestown pitching change to bring in Andrew Nohrenberg, the Vistas scored two more runs in the fifth frame on a wild pitch and a sacrifice fly by Easton Bennett.
Nohrenberg lost his command in the sixth inning by hitting four batters, two of which came with the bases loaded. Over the two games on Friday night, Jamestown hit a total of 10 Minot batters.
“It’s free bases,” Bartsch said when asked about stepping into the batter’s box against a pitcher who is struggling with their command. “We will take it.”
Catcher Rudolph closed out Stewart’s 93-pitch complete game in the first contest with a sliding catch in front of the Jamestown bench for the 10-3 victory.
Eight different Vistas recorded a hit and seven batters collected an RBI. Minot narrowly outhit Jamestown 9-8.
Jamestown was kept off the scoreboard in the top of the first inning in Game 2 because of second baseman Schimke ranging to his left, spinning and throwing out a runner at first base. Rudolph also showed off his arm by throwing out a runner at second base later in the inning.
The pitching duel between Minot’s Carson Tonini and Jamestown’s Dawson Douty went in the Vistas’ favor in the fifth inning. With just Minot’s third hit of the game, Bartsch cleared the bases with a three-run double down the right field line.
“It felt good,” Bartsch said. “Bases loaded, I just tried to do something simple and get the ball in play.”
Easier said than done when Bartsch had to face a shifted defense for the entirety of the second game.
With still no outs in the fifth inning, Schimke walked with the bases loaded against Nohrenberg, who replaced Douty on the mound. Then, Kyler Stenberg added a sacrifice fly and Bennett hit an RBI single to plate six runs in the breakthrough inning.
The Vistas tacked on two more runs in the sixth inning with Bartsch getting his fourth RBI of the game on a double and a sacrifice fly from Conor Taney.
Tonini threw an even 100 pitches and gave up five hits to complete the seven-inning shutout.
“Eli (Stewart) pitched really well and, obviously, Carson (Tonini) shut them out,” Arntson said. “That’s a huge help when we have four more games coming up here after a day off. So, it’s good to save some arms.”
The Vistas have road doubleheaders against Billings on Sunday and Monday. Both starting at 5 p.m.
Alex Eisen covers Minot High School, Minot State athletics and high school sports. Follow him on Twitter @AEisen13.