Minot Metros seize two victories over Renville County
LANSFORD — Although the Minot Metros built a solid 6-2 lead over the Renville County Muskrats, Hunter Ruzicka was not satisfied.
Ruzicka’s deep three-run home run in the sixth inning helped the Metros (7-7) earn a 9-7 victory over the Muskrats (8-4) in the first game of Friday evening’s doubleheader in Lansford. Minot closed out the action with a 4-1 win in the nightcap.
“I kept watching it,” Ruzicka said about his big fly. “The kid kept running. I started to think. I rounded first, and I saw everybody come out. They were all happy. I was like, ‘All right. This is what it’s like.'”
Renville County threatened in the bottom of the first inning and scored one run. Minot responded with four runs in the top of the second.
After Jayden Speraw and Landon Halseth deposited strong base knocks in right field, the Metros led 3-1. Another run came home on an errant pitch.
Brock Depute smacked an RBI single through the right side in the bottom of the third. Depute’s hit brought the score to 4-2, but neither team scratched in the fourth inning.
The Metros stayed aggressive and tacked on two runs in the top of the fifth. Starting pitcher Tyler Johnson kept the Muskrats in check.
“It was huge,” Minot head coach Dalton Cooper said. “‘TJ’ has gotten better in every single start he’s had this year. His first start, he wasn’t really able to get ahead of hitters. Since then, it just went up and up and up. We need him to be big this year if we want to make a big run in the state tournament.”
With two runners on base in the top of the sixth, Ruzicka made the game’s most emphatic statement with his home run. The Metros stormed out of the third-base dugout and hollered in celebration.
“It’s always awesome to see a kid hit a home run,” Cooper said. “Especially seeing everybody come out of the dugout and greet him. The energy that it brings was a big boost for us today.”
Renville County drove the ball around the diamond in a five-run seventh inning, but Minot survived the rally. The Metros handed the Muskrats their first loss at Richardson Field this season.
“They keep fighting,” Ruzicka said about his teammates. “They don’t give up. Even in that last inning, when (Renville County) started to come back, we kept it on them.”
In the second contest, the Metros struck for four runs in the top of the first inning. Both teams continued to put runners on base in the subsequent innings, but no runs came across until the fourth.
Minot southpaw hurler Josh Will found a groove on the mound in the early stages. Joe Savelkoul smacked a sacrifice fly to center field for the Muskrats’ lone run in the fourth.
Neither team scored in the fifth inning. Minot walked away with a 4-1 victory and the sweep.
Two bugaboos hindered the Muskrats in both games.
“If we limit walks and errors, we win,” Renville County head coach Bart Savelkoul said. “In the first game, I believe it was the second inning where we just had errors and walks. Two crucial errors and three walks. We just kind of got down and couldn’t mentally battle out of it.”
Minot will head south to face the Mandan A’s at 5:30 p.m. on Monday. Renville County will welcome Garrison/Max for a pair of seven-inning games at 4:30 p.m. on Thursday.
“We’re just going to continue to get better,” Cooper said. “It’s a long season. It’s a marathon. You don’t start out sprinting right away. You start out with a jog. You just continue to get better.”
Jimmy Lafakis covers Minot High School sports and Class B high school sports. Follow him on Twitter @JJLII30.