Metros drop two against Jamestown in final regular-season games

Jimmy Lafakis/MDN Minot Metros pitcher Tyler Harbort delivers a pitch during the third inning of the doubleheader's first game against Jamestown Post 14 at Corbett Field.

Chicago Cubs Hall of Famer Ernie Banks once quipped, “Let’s play two.” Major playoff implications took precedence as the Minot Metros squared off against Jamestown Post 14 in Wednesday’s doubleheader at Corbett Field.

Both teams entered the twin bill atop the American Legion Class A West Region standings with a 10-2 record. The Bismarck Reps held third place at 10-3.

The Metros were locked into a top-three seed before the games even began.

“I think one-through-nine, every time, every guy can come up and hit the baseball,” Metros head coach Fred Nelson said. “You hear teams say all the time, ‘Hey, eight, nine, top coming up,’ things like that. Our eight, nine, top, is the same as our top. It doesn’t matter.”

The Metros drew first blood in the bottom of the second inning. Right fielder Keegan Stenvold singled home center fielder Talon Hebert. Neither team scratched in the third inning, but Jamestown flexed its offensive muscle in the fourth.

Jimmy Lafakis/MDN Minot Metros center fielder Talon Hebert scores the first game's first run at Corbett Field.

Three consecutive one-out singles loaded the bases. Metros southpaw Tyler Harbort punched out Jamestown third baseman Isaac Mimong, but left fielder Aaron Kleven’s lumber brought two home with a sharp outfield single.

Kleven flashed his leather in the bottom of the sixth with a two-out sliding snag. The crucial catch prevented Trent Greek’s sinking line drive from scoring Hebert.

A two-out Landon Halseth single kept Minot alive in the bottom of the seventh. The Metros were unable to push him across, and fell 2-1 in the evening’s first game. Harbort scattered eight hits across the contest, while counterpart Dawson Douty allowed seven.

The teams swapped home and away positions on the scoreboard and Jamestown wasted no time scoring runs in the nightcap.

Pitcher Thomas Falk ripped an RBI triple to the deepest section of right field, then scored on an errant pitch. Mimong tattooed a deep double off the base of the left field wall. Post 14 zoomed ahead 3-0 after the first inning.

Minot starter Stenvold surrendered three more runs in the bottom of the second, as shortstop Chris Erickson’s outfield flare, Falk’s sacrifice fly and Mimong’s bases-loaded walk provided Jamestown additional insurance.

Hebert relieved Stenvold on the hill in the bottom of the third inning. Two consecutive errors and a walk loaded the bases with no outs, and a third error allowed Jamestown to push across two runs. After three innings, they led 8-0 off the strength of four hits.

Suddenly, fleeting rain washed over Corbett Field as the Metros came to bat in the top of the fourth. In a bizarre sequence, a lightning strike delayed the action — all while the sun continued to shine.

Following the delay, Minot’s Braedon McCarty ripped a two-out shot into the outfield. Hebert came around to score, and McCarty slid to evade a potential play at second base. As the ball skipped deep into center field, he got on his horse and crossed home plate.

“It was exhausting,” McCarty said. “I saw the catcher kind of pump fake me, and I was like, ‘Throw it if you’re gonna.’ He overthrew it, and I thought I was just going to get to third, but Coach Fred rounded me. I was like, ‘All right, here we go,’ went in there belly-first and scored.”

The Metros now trailed 8-2.

Post 14 didn’t allow the elements to rain on their run parade. Erickson flung a Texas Leaguer into right field, then moved to third base on an error. Right fielder Kohl Kratz’s deep sacrifice fly to center supplied a run in the fifth.

Greek toed the rubber for the Metros in the bottom of the sixth and promptly struck out the side. Minot went down in order, and Jamestown earned a 9-2 victory. The Metros committed five errors in the game.

“We can’t make as many errors as we did in that second game today,” McCarty said. “Five is way too many, especially with a good team like that. We just have to come out, hit the ball hard and find gaps anyhow. Once we get on base, we’re deadly.”

Minot officially finished regular season play at 10-4 in-region, while Jamestown clinched the West Region’s No. 1 seed with a 12-2 record. Mandan will visit the Bismarck Reps this evening to determine the tournament’s final seedings.

Regardless of seed at the regional tournament, the Metros will play the final game on July 23 — the first round of the double-elimination tournament — at Corbett Field.

“We’ll just try to get back to the basics,” Nelson said. “We’ll take a lot of BP (batting practice) and try to get our bats to come around a little bit more than they have been lately. Like I said, work on those basics and the little things. The little things always lead to big things, so if we can perfect those things, we’ll be all right.”

Jimmy Lafakis covers Minot High School sports and Class B high school sports. Follow him on Twitter @JJLII30.