More than a game

Metros sweep Watford City, raises money for disaster relief

Alex Eisen/MDN Minot Metros pitcher Kersey Harris releases a pitch in Game 1 of a Tuesday doubleheader against Watford City at Corbett Field in Minot. The Metros won 2-0 and 6-4.

After a severe thunderstorm and tornado ripped through the outskirts of Watford City on Monday night, an American Legion Class A baseball doubleheader at Corbett Field in Minot offered a brief escape from the natural disaster for members of the Watford City Walleye.

While the Minot Metros handed the Walleye two defeats on the diamond (2-0, 6-4), Magic City Youth Baseball and spectators in attendance raised over $250 in donations to aid the damaged community.

“If you go south of town, you can see what happened,” Watford City coach Pat Spacher said. “The kids were talking about that. It’s good to get your mind away from that, but also understanding that people back home are hurting and having a struggle. We are really, really appreciative of all the people here that gave money and we will forward that on to the people who need it. It’s great to come out and play baseball and not deal with all the things going on at home, but I kind of wish we could have brought those people (affected) with us, so they could have taken their mind off of it.”

Amidst the aftermath, Watford City rolled into Minot on Tuesday with heavy hearts.

“Our players, we didn’t have a lot of them who were affected by it, but they know what is going on,” Spacher said. “Some of them were helping last night and we were on the road heading back from Surrey last night when the storm was coming. We got in just before it happened. We almost ran out of gas on the way. So, we knew what was going on.”

Alex Eisen/MDN Metros infielder Logan Merck trots home from third base to score a run against Watford City.

A low-scoring Game 1 was won on the pitching strength of starter Kersey Harris and the Metros’ defense behind him. Harris threw a complete game shutout, allowing just two hits to No. 3 hitter Preston Milstead.

“I had my off-speed pitches going pretty well,” Harris said. “So, I kept them off balance.”

Metros head coach Fred Nelson added: “He threw really well and he has done that a lot for us all year. He pounds the zone consistently and changes speeds very well.”

Four hits with a pair of RBI doubles, coming from Dylan Buchanan in the third inning and Brett Irwin in the sixth, was all the offense Minot could muster.

Yet, it was enough, given a flawless error-free performance out in the field, which included a Walleye runner being thrown out at home plate on a ground ball to third base. A costly circumstance that would have tied the game.

“We ran into a little bit of bad luck in the sixth inning when I thought we were going to tie the ball game,” Spacher said. “We hit the ball right on the bag and our runner on third base had nowhere to go, but try to score. The third baseman made a nice play.”

The Walleye got their offense going in the nightcap of the doubleheader. In dramatic fashion, Darien Dunn scored Watford City’s first run off an inside the park home run that was hit out to the 410-foot sign in center field. They tacked on two more runs to hold a 3-0 lead after the top of the second inning.

Logan Merck evened the score in the third inning with a bases loaded clearing double, and he eventually strolled home on a wild pitch. Preston Jones added an RBI single to give the Metros a 5-3 lead to work with.

Metros’ starting pitcher Brett Martin was relieved by Charlie Slotsve in the fourth inning after allowing a bases loaded walk and power hitter Dunn stepping to the plate with two outs. Dunn popped out to right field to keep the Metros ahead 5-4.

A double steal manufactured the Metros final run in the bottom half to cap the final score at 6-4 in the five-inning affair.

“That’s something we have been struggling to do,” Nelson said about coming from behind. “When we get down early, we haven’t been able to come back and win a game. And just to close out games, we did that twice tonight. That’s great to see. We are making improvements.”

The Metros hit the road and take on Beulah this evening at 5 p.m.

Alex Eisen covers Minot State athletics, the Minot Minotauros and high school sports. Follow him on Twitter @AEisen13.