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Minot Vistas no match for West Fargo in home opener

Alex Eisen/MDN West Fargo's Alex Urlaub attempts to avoid the tag of Minot Vistas catcher Braedon McCarty in the second game of a doubleheader played Saturday afternoon at Corbett Field in Minot.

The West Fargo Patriots crossed home plate 21 times while the Minot Vistas only managed to muster five hits in its home opener doubleheader Saturday at Corbett Field. It was a long, windy afternoon at the ballpark.

“They jumped us,” Vistas head coach Pat Arntson said. “They were ready. They were sharper and probably more talented at this point. That all exposed itself there in that first game.”

West Fargo (2-0) scored in all five innings to rout Minot 17-1 in a mercy-rule shortened Game 1. The Vistas (2-2) kept the Patriots’ offense more in-check in Game 2, but they were still held scoreless with only one hit to fall 4-0 in the rematch.

The Patriots poured in six runs to open the doubleheader. Dustin Mertz found the gap in right center for bases-clearing triple to ignite the scoring. Cooper Borchardt added a two-run single and Anthony Villanueva chipped in with an RBI single.

Thoughts that an extremely high-scoring affair was a possibility started to circulate when Minot leadoff hitter Chase Burke smashed a home run into the right field corner on the Vistas’ first at-bat of the game.

“It felt pretty good,” Burke said. “I was just trying to provide runs for the team.”

Little did Burke know that solo home run was going to be Minot’s only tally of the entire doubleheader.

Meanwhile, West Fargo continued to rack up the runs. The Patriots scored two in the second, three in the third, four in the fourth and two more in the fifth for a grand total of 17 runs.

Minot pitchers Calvin Watkins and Caleb Reing weren’t able to slow the Patriots down.

“We couldn’t get secondary (pitches) over the plate, so all they had to worry about was the fastball,” Arntson said. “If that fastball isn’t at a crazy speed, then most hitters get comfortable. We made our own mess, and they banged balls into the gap for big numbers.”

West Fargo finished with 15 hits. Winning pitcher Brayden Jacobson had three hits and four RBIs at the plate. Lance Oster also had three hits and a pair of RBIs. Mertz went 2-for-3 with three RBIs before taking the ball to be the Game 2 starting pitcher.

Mertz, helping his own cause in the second game, gave the Patriots a 2-0 lead after the first inning with an RBI single. A Vistas’ error in the outfield in the third inning made it 3-0 and Borchardt hit an RBI single in the sixth for 4-0.

Mertz went 5 2/3 innings before reaching his pitch count limit. He only allowed a single — a chopper back up the middle — to Braedon McCarty in the third inning and gave up three walks. He also struck out five Vistas.

Adison Krank came in as a relief pitcher and cleaned up the final four outs to seal the combined one-hitter for West Fargo.

“They kind of put us in our place today,” Arntson said. “We saw (how big the) gap is tonight. We aren’t going to get there by hanging out and having fun all the time. Hopefully, we can put in enough work during practice that on game day we can turn them loose. But, obviously, right now, we aren’t there yet.”

Burke agreed: “It starts in practice. We have to work hard. Everyone has to be working on their swings in the (batting) cage, and hopefully, we will be better next time.”

The Vistas are set to host Fargo Post 2 next at 5 p.m. Tuesday evening at Corbett Field.

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

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