Havoc at Hoeven
Vistas split doubleheader with Fargo Post 2 in season opener
Two games. Twelve pitchers. Fifty-two runs.
Even the rain couldn’t put out the absolute barn burner that broke out at Jack Hoeven Park Saturday afternoon as the Minot Vistas kicked off their season with a doubleheader against Fargo Post 2. When the dust settled, Minot split the series with a 28-13 loss and a 6-5 win in extra innings.
“That first game was about as bad as it gets,” Vistas head coach Pat Arntson said. “To rebound in the second game is what’s exciting. It would’ve been easy to check out after giving up 28 (runs), not to mention the rain, the wind and the cold, but they didn’t.”
Game 1 seemed to be destined for an early mercy rule when the road team erupted for 10 runs in the top of the fourth inning to take a commanding 14-4 lead.
But the Vistas didn’t flinch. Instead, they exploded for nine runs of their own in the bottom of the frame. The exclamation point came from Dylan Vigested, who nearly hit a grand slam up the middle of the field, but ultimately settled for a bases-clearing triple to make it a 14-11 contest.
Logan Merck followed up the electrifying play with an RBI single, and Chase Burke recorded an RBI double on the next at-bat to trim Fargo’s lead to 14-13.
But the comeback ended there. Leading 15-13 in the top of the sixth inning, Fargo went on another rampage at the plate and racked up seven more runs.
Nearly half of those runs came courtesy of Austin Manuel who, like Vigested, nearly hit a grand slam up the middle of the field. Instead, Manuel plated three runs and slid into third to make it a 22-13 ballgame.
This time the Vistas weren’t able to recover, and Fargo claimed Game 1 with a convincing 28-13 victory. Despite the lopsided defeat, Arntson encouraged his troops to keep their heads up.
“We just told our guys to respond,” Arntson said. “We didn’t quit when we were down 14-4, and I knew we could build off of that in the second game.”
Game 2 of the afternoon proved to be far more tamed, though, as both the rain and the ludicrous scoring sprees ceased.
Once again Fargo jumped out to an early lead, and once again the Vistas responded.
Trailing 4-1 in the bottom of the fourth inning, Merck sent a line drive in the direction of Fargo shortstop Brandt Kolpack. The ball bounced off his glove and bled into the outfield, allowing one run to come in.
Alex Schimke delivered an RBI single of his own two at-bats later to trim the deficit to 4-3 and delivered once more in the bottom of the sixth inning with a sacrifice fly to tie the game up and ultimately force extra innings.
Fargo struck first in the top of the eighth inning. Brayden Koenig connected on the first pitch of the opening at-bat and sent it deep into the outfield for a triple. Kolpack then brought him home soon afterwards with a sac fly to give the road team a 5-4 lead entering the bottom of the frame.
Once again, Schimke came through. The shortstop tied the score with an RBI single, setting up Derek Nygaard with the chance to win the game at the plate.
“I was just trying to hit the ball hard,” Nygaard said. “I wanted to hit it over the infield so I could score that winning run.”
That wouldn’t be necessary.
With a 3-1 count and the bases loaded, Nygaard didn’t bite on a pitch from Fargo’s Zach Kluvers and watched as it found the outside of the strike zone for the fourth ball. Burke strolled home to score the game-winning run off a bases loaded walk to secure Minot’s 6-5 win.
“Anything it takes for the team to win,” Nygaard said. “That’s all that matters in my book.”
Next up for the Vistas is a doubleheader at home against Mandan on Monday. The start time has yet to be determined.
Justin Martinez covers Minot High School sports and Class B high school sports. Follow him on Twitter @JTheSportsDude.