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Big Sticks steal home in extras to top Sabre Dogs

Alex Eisen/MDN Souris Valley Sabre Dogs starting pitcher Drew Lang releases a pitch in an Expedition League contest against the Badlands Big Sticks Wednesday evening at Corbett Field.

Rolling the dice in extra innings, the Badlands Big Sticks came up with a Yahtzee while the Souris Valley Sabre Dogs rolled snake eyes.

The Big Sticks (17-14) maintained the top spot in the Lewis Division with a 3-2 road victory Wednesday evening over the Sabre Dogs (15-15) at Corbett Field. Wyatt Setian scored the winning run in the top of the 10th inning by doing the unthinkable: stealing home.

The gutsy move with two outs paid off immensely.

In the bottom half, Sabre Dogs head coach Corey Thompson tried to match with his own risky decision. He gave the green light to Minot State newcomer Nolan Monthei to steal third base with no outs.

Isaiah Marquez pulled back his bunt attempt at the plate, and Monthei was picked off. Two quick outs later and the Sabre Dogs fell back down to the .500 mark.

“Yeah, it did (backfire), but that’s just how we have been playing,” Sabre Dogs head coach Corey Thompson said. “If it works, then I’m a genius. If not, then I’m the loser. But I’m good with it. I’m going to sleep well tonight because I made the decision and I’m good with it. But, yeah, it still sucks.”

After two innings of scoreless baseball, the Big Sticks broke the opening lull with a pair of runs in the third inning. Mason Schwellenbach drilled an RBI double into the left-field corner and then came around to score on an RBI single by Nathan Sanders.

Sabre Dogs starting pitcher Drew Lang got out of the inning by striking out Setian — the “beer batter” who amusingly acknowledged the chanting crowd with a tip of his cap walking back to the dugout — along with a routine groundout.

The discounted alcohol for the spectators mellowed some of the tension involved with the Big Sticks loading the bases with one out the next inning. Lang wiggled out of the jam unscathed with another punch out followed by a groundout.

The Sabre Dogs’ offense was held to one lone hit, a single back up the middle by Allen Grier, through four innings before copying the Big Sticks and loading the bases with one out in the bottom of the fifth inning.

Justin Cooper beat out what was going to be a double play to notch the Sabre Dogs’ first run on a fielder’s choice. Badlands starting pitcher Joel Colledge then stuck out Josh Solomon on pitch No. 87 to end the threat.

Both teams went to relief pitchers in the sixth inning. Daniel Rivera replaced Lang, and Colledge gave the ball up to Logan Siblerud.

Badlands held to Souris Valley to only three hits in the contest.

“They threw two really good arms tonight,” Thompson said. “The first guy (Colledge) has one of the lowest ERAs (1.44) in the league, and the last guy (Dallas Bryan) might be one of the hardest throwers in the league. Some tough arms to face.”

The Sabre Dogs stranded tying-runner Mason Dinesen on third base in the sixth inning. But, Dinesen resurfaced again in the eighth.

On what should have been another tailor-made double play, the Big Sticks overthrew first base to allow Dinesen to reach safely and Solomon shuffled around to score off the error to tie the game at 2-2.

Sabre Dogs closer Tanner Riley gave his team a chance to be walk-off winners in the ninth with a quick 1-2-3 top half. But, the Sabre Dogs went down in order as well in the bottom half against Bryan.

Setian started the 10th inning on second base and was held on third base when shortstop Dinesen made a diving play to record a groundout. Faced with two outs, Setian caught everybody off guard by sprinting toward home plate when catcher Monthei tossed back a strike to Riley.

Riley was fast to react to the rare situation and threw the ball back to Monthei, but Setian was too quick.

Thompson ran out of the dugout and halfheartedly argued the call.

“He was definitely safe,” Thompson said. “He made the right call. I just went out there to try and fight for our guys.”

Unfortunately, Monthei’s misfortunes didn’t end there. His first game with the Sabre Dogs this season ended with him getting picked off third base.

Souris Valley leads the league with 97 stolen bases in 30 games. Monthei became the 21st Sabre Dog runner to get caught stealing.

There is no time to dwell on the past. The three-game home series concludes at 7:05 p.m. this 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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