Vistas settle for split against Fargo Post 400

Minot Vistas shortstop Dylan Buchanan fields a grounder Thursday evening against Fargo Post 400 at Corbett Field in Minot.

Quality pitching in Game 1 was able to mask what was coming in Game 2.

The Minot Vistas (10-4 in-league record) suffered a split, an 8-0 win and a 4-1 loss, Thursday evening at Corbett Field against Fargo Post 400 (5-11 in-league) that left the team searching for some answers.

“We have played pretty uninspired baseball the last couple of days,” Vistas head coach Pat Arntson said. “(In the first game), our talent overcame our lack of effort or enthusiasm. That was really the only difference I saw between the games.”

Vistas starter Carson Tonini tossed a four-hit shutout in the opener. Fargo Post 400 had its opportunities early on with runners in scoring position, but Tonini always found a way to work out of trouble.

Meanwhile, the Vistas’ offense was consistent throughout. Minot scored in every inning except the second inning.

Alex Eisen/MDN Minot Vistas batter Derek Nygaard (2) pulls a pitch foul Thursday in Game 2 of a doubleheader against Fargo Post 400 at Corbett Field.

Jack Plemel ignited the home crowd in the first inning with a bases-clearing, three-run double into the gap in right center.

In the third inning, Alex Schimke provided an RBI sacrifice fly. In the fourth, Kaleb Bellew scored off a ball in the turf and Derek Nygaard hit an RBI single. Dylan Buchanan found the left field corner for an RBI double in the fifth inning.

Lastly, Chase Burke stole third base, was hit by the throw over and quickly regathered himself to narrowly beat out the return throw to home plate for the eighth and final run of the contest.

Regardless, the Vistas were seemingly just going through the motions.

“Right now, we don’t seem that interested in getting after it,” Arntson said. “We had the better pitcher in Game 1 and they had a guy (pitching) who our guys were comfortable with.”

Schimke followed Tonini’s footsteps in the nightcap.

The Vistas’ Game 2 starting pitcher wiggled out of danger multiple times in the first three innings. Despite giving up five hits, a walk and an error, Fargo wasn’t able to push across its first run of the doubleheader.

But, Minot pressed its luck for far too long.

Fargo Post 400 finally broke through with a four-run fourth inning. A pair of throwing errors plated two runs, a fielding error brought in another and Ben Callies chipped in with an RBI single.

“They banged it around,” Arntson said. “They hit Alex (Schimke) around hard, and he had pitched well enough to leave maybe a couple less runs on the board. But, they were squaring him up a lot. Only singles, though, so they didn’t put up big numbers.”

The Vistas tried to redeem a poor defensive showing with some lethal bats in the bottom half, but left the bases loaded.

Burke replaced Schimke on the mound in the fifth inning and held Fargo Post 400 scoreless the rest of the way.

Threatening in the sixth inning, Vistas’ Logan Merck stepped to the plate with two outs and the bases loaded. Merck drew a full-count walk, but Dylan Vigested couldn’t stop his momentum as he rounded third base and was picked off to end a promising inning.

Vigested laid face down on the turf for a few seconds before picking himself up and making his way back to the Vistas’ dugout. A grim snapshot of Minot’s struggles in the second game.

The Vistas did make one final push in the seventh. They loaded the bases with one out, but failed to find the clutch hit needed.

Minot can’t dwell on the 4-1 defeat for long because they have a quick turnaround ahead. The Vistas play their final conference doubleheader on the road this evening against the league leaders Fargo Post 2, and there is still plenty to play for.

With a sweep, Minot would hold onto the No. 2 seed for the upcoming American Legion Class AA state tournament. Fargo Post 2 has already clinched the top-seed.

With a split, Minot would find themselves in a series of tiebreakers with the Bismarck Governors to determine the No. 2 and No. 3 seeds. That scenario would likely be broken by the fourth tiebreaker: Runs allowed in all league games.

Bismarck (11-5 in-league) has played all its league games already and has allowed 60 runs. Therefore, if Minot does split with Fargo Post 2, the Vistas would have to give up fewer than two runs — they’ll enter the Fargo Post 2 doubleheader with 58 league runs allowed this summer — to keep hold of the No. 2 seed.

Being swept by Fargo Post 2 means the No. 3 seed for Minot.

The critical twin bill in Fargo is scheduled to start at 5 p.m.

“Depending on what squad shows up,” Arntson said, “it could be really ugly or it could be really fun.”

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