Errors, Hotshots halt the ‘hot’ Sabre Dogs

Alex Eisen/MDN Sabre Dogs third baseman Chauncey Callier (10) signals the outfield to throw the baseball to home plate with Hotshots runner Daniel Rodriguez (9) rounding the base Sunday evening at Corbett Field in Minot.

Are the Souris Valley Sabre Dogs hot? According to the aptly named Twitter account @AreTheDogsHot1, the answer after Saturday’s 3-2 victory was a resounding “Yes.”

Through the first four innings Sunday, that appeared to still be the case as the Sabre Dogs jumped out to a 5-0 lead over the Hub City Hotshots in hopes of a three-game weekend sweep.

Then, the Hotshots caught fire with no extinguisher in sight.

Hub City (9-11) scorched the basepaths for 14 unanswered runs across the fifth and sixth innings to stun the Sabre Dogs (11-10) on Father’s Day at Corbett Field in Minot.

Coming into the contest, Souris Valley had won five out of their last six games to skyrocket up the Lewis Division standings. Suffering a 16-6 home defeat to the Hotshots was an undesired setback.

“(We) hit the fan,” Sabre Dogs head coach Corey Thompson said. “But, we have won the last three series in a row.”

The Sabre Dogs opened the scoring Sunday without recording a hit. Bo McClintock took first base on a hit by pitch, reached third on an error and then scored off a sacrifice fly by Alex Hay.

Later in the bottom half of the second inning, Justin Henle crossed home plate on a double steal. That unconventional scoring play was followed by the first hit of the game. Jase Edwards dropped in an RBI single in shallow right field to put the Sabre Dogs up 3-0.

A bases-loaded passed ball in the third inning generously gifted the Sabre Dogs another run. Wilson Roubion tacked on an RBI single in the fourth, 5-0.

On the mound, starting pitcher Matt Houlihan was mowing down the Hotshots. After giving up a walk in the first inning, Houlihan retired 11 straight Hub City batters.

His no-hit bid came to an end in the fifth inning when Colton Cox singled through the left side of the infield. The next batter, Dylan Johnson, put the Hotshots on the board with another RBI single.

This was the start of an avalanche that the Sabre Dogs couldn’t stop.

Two more runs came in on a double to the gap in right center by Daniel Rodriguez. The unraveling continued when Jake Anderson lined another two-run double to the left field corner. He ended up scoring on the play, as the ball scooted away and rolled out of play after being thrown to home plate.

That was one of five Souris Valley errors in the contest.

After four near-flawless innings, Houlihan didn’t survive the fifth and was pulled for relief pitcher Cody Waters. Two of the six runs given up in the inning were earned.

“Our pitcher kind of got mentally weak,” Thompson said. “We didn’t get a few strike calls that should have been strike three. We didn’t overcome that and kind of let it get to us.”

The Hotshots were far from finished. Hub City went off for eight more runs in the sixth inning, which included a pair of towering home runs by West Fargo native Parker Borg and Joe Guidry.

When the dust finally settled, the Hotshots had a commanding 14-5 lead. But, as if that wasn’t enough, Hub City added two more runs in the eighth to grab a double-digit advantage.

Hotshots hurler Austin Crain, who took over the pitching duties after starter Avery Stevens gave up the first five runs (two earned), held the Sabre Dogs in check — allowing three hits and one run — over the final four innings.

“I think we are fine,” Thompson said about possible improvements his team could make. “I think we are doing everything fine.”

The Sabre Dogs, looking to wash away the bad taste of Sunday’s lopsided loss, will host the Wheat City Whiskey Jacks this evening in a rain make-up game that was supposed to be played May 24. First pitch is set for 7:05 p.m. at Corbett Field.

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