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Sabers pitching shines in pair of wins against Magi baseball

Justin Martinez/MDN Minot High School junior Derek Nygaard swings at a pitch inside during the Magicians’ doubleheader against Bismarck Legacy on Tuesday at Corbett Field.

Despite Dylan Buchanan’s best efforts, the Sabers didn’t break.

The sophomore got the Magicians off to a strong start in the opening inning of the Minot High School baseball team’s doubleheader against Bismarck Legacy on Tuesday. With a 0-2 count, two outs and a runner on third, Buchanan pulled the trigger on a pitch from Sabers ace Parker Decoteau and sent it up the heart of the defense to bring in the first run of the day.

But, little did Buchanan and the Magi know, the quick score would be their lone highlight of Game 1. The next six innings belonged entirely to the Sabers, who lit up the scoreboard for a convincing 9-2 victory.

“It just seemed like we didn’t have a whole lot of life in that Game 1,” MHS head coach Pete Stenberg said. “We didn’t play really well defensively, and we didn’t swing it well. We ended up with seven hits, which was the same as (Legacy), but we have to come through when we have runners in scoring position.”

Legacy (9-9, 6-4 West Region) also prevailed in the second game of the day for a 3-2 win thanks to some stellar pitching from senior Paxton Miller, but not before Buchanan gave the Magi 8-8 (5-7 West Region) one last boost at the plate.

Trailing 2-0 in the bottom of the fourth inning with teammate Chase Burke on first, Buchanan took the Magi offense off life support. The sophomore faced off with Miller, who had only allowed one hit up until that point.

With a 0-2 count, Buchanan finally saw a throw he liked and got every last bit of it.

The ball zipped past Legacy third baseman Isaac Pegors and tight-roped along the left-field line, just barely staying in play. Burke rounded the bases and came all the way home, while Buchanan cruised to second base for the RBI double.

“It felt good,” Buchanan said. “(Miller) throws pretty hard. He’s one of the most challenging pitchers we’ve faced probably all year. I just waited on a curve that came in on the last pitch and drove it down the line.”

Now at third base, the sophomore came home off an RBI groundout by junior Jack Plemel on the next at-bat to tie the score at two runs apiece.

But the Sabers had a response in the top of the sixth inning. With the score still tied at two, Legacy’s Jackson Klipfel put the road team on top with a single that brought in Jack Johnson to make it a 3-2 contest.

After going scoreless in the bottom of the sixth inning, the Magi had one last chance at a comeback in the bottom of the seventh with a runner on third base and two outs.

Miller had other plans. The Legacy pitcher struck out senior Kyler Stenberg for the final out to secure the Sabers’ 3-2 victory.

Buchanan finished with an RBI and a run on 1-for-2 hitting in the losing effort, while senior Brock Nesheim struck out six and allowed two hits in five innings on the mound. Miller struck out 10 batters and allowed five hits in a complete game.

Minot will have to try to get back in the win column on the road, as it’s set to travel to Watford City on Friday for a doubleheader against the Wolves. First pitch is scheduled for 4:30 p.m.

“We need to relax a little bit,” Pete Stenberg said. “We need to play with a little bit more fun and just right the ship.”

Justin Martinez covers Minot High School sports and Class B high school sports. Follow him on Twitter @JTheSportsDude.

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