Minot Vistas shrug off a slow start to pick up a split
The first pitch of Monday’s American Legion doubleheader between the Minot Vistas and the Grand Forks Royals was driven out to the right field wall for a triple.
Parker Monette had the Royals off and running, leading to a three-run first inning and eventually a 13-7 victory in Game 1.
The Vistas bounced back with a 11-3 win in Game 2.
“It was a reverse story,” Vistas head coach Pat Arntson said about the difference between the two games. “It’s tough when you only play seven innings and give up 13 runs. You aren’t going to win many. We didn’t throw enough strikes and made our own messes.”
The Royals briefly broke Game 1 open in the fifth inning after Vistas starting pitcher Kyler Stenberg was pulled, giving up five runs on seven hits. Reliever Dylan Vigested came in, struggled with his command, and allowed five runs without recording an out.
Brenden Bethke did most of the damage with a bases loaded clearing triple. He finished with four RBIs. Only to be outdone by teammate Parker Stroh, who went 5-for-5 at the plate for five RBIs.
“That is a team that can hit and can hit a fastball,” Arntson said. “We gave them some free bases and fed some of their big guys. They made us pay.”
Holding a commanding 11-0 lead, Grand Forks starting pitcher Conner Richardson couldn’t close out a five-inning mercy shutout.
Instead, Alex Schimke fouled off multiple pitches before dropping in a two-run single into left center field. Then, Carson Tonini followed that up with a two-run double to right center to force more innings, 11-4.
“The effort was there,” Arntson said. “I don’t think they were lackadaisical or not into it. We just didn’t play well.”
Stroh led off the sixth inning with a first-pitch swinging home run to right field off of Minot’s second reliever, Derek Nygaard.
Minot countered again in the bottom half by scoring three runs to cut the deficit to 12-7, but they left the bases loaded.
Swinging a hot bat, Stroh’s fifth hit of the contest was a two-out RBI triple in the seventh. He was a double short of hitting for the cycle.
The Royals scored in every inning except the second inning in Game 1 for a 13-7 win.
“We just kept battling and I’ll give us credit for that,” Schimke said. “We fought until the last out and that carried momentum into the second game.”
In Game 2, Vigested got his revenge for the loss on the mound in the opener with a three-run double in the second inning to jolt the Vistas out to an early lead.
Creighton Rudolph then smoked a double down the right field line to bring in Vigested, and Tonini went down the left field line for a three-run double later in the second inning to increase the Vistas’ lead to 7-0. That chased Royals starting pitcher Bethke off the mound.
Meanwhile, Schimke was dealing for Minot. He retired the first nine batters he faced before running into trouble in the fourth. Earning a casual stroll around the bases, Brock Reller unloaded with a two-run home run to deep right center.
“Everyone tells you to pitch to contact and that’s what I was trying to do,” Schimke said. “I just my defense behind me. I made some quality pitches and (catcher) Vigested called a great game behind the plate.”
The Vistas got those two runs back on a bases loaded walk to Paxten Wahlund in the fourth and an RBI single by Stenberg in the fifth.
The teams traded a few more runs before Schimke got the final out for a complete game 11-3 win.
Tonini went 2-for-3 with four RBIs in Game 2.
Coming up, the Vistas head out on a four-game road trip with the first stop being against East Grand Forks at 5 p.m. on Wednesday.
Alex Eisen covers Minot State athletics, the Minot Minotauros and high school sports. Follow him on Twitter @AEisen13.