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Metro Metros suffer frustrating defeats to Bismarck Capitals

Alex Eisen/MDN Minot Metros shortstop Landon Halseth (1) throws the ball over to third base to record an out Tuesday evening against the Bismarck Capitals at Corbett Field in Minot.

A win ripped away late and a wavering strike zone made for a long Tuesday evening for the Minot Metros.

The Bismarck Capitals were the only team to depart Corbett Field in a good mood following a pair of 4-3 (eight innings) and 10-1 road wins in Minot.

“Yeah, it was frustrating,” said Minot Metros head coach Dalton Cooper, who was ejected from the second game of the doubleheader for arguing about the aforementioned strike zone. “We played hard that first game. The kid they threw was good. We got out to an early lead, and I think we kind of coasted with our lead. I felt like our at-bats went downhill, which can’t happen. When you get up on a team, you got to keep putting pressure on them and continue to score runs.”

After the Capitals struck first in Game 1 with an RBI single by Jaden Mitzel in the opening frame, the Metros scored their first two runs off Bismarck errors. Aiden Stewart then dropped in an RBI single to increase Minot’s lead to 3-1 through two full frames.

Four scoreless innings followed with both starting pitchers — Minot’s Tyler Buchanan and Bismarck’s Josh Lardy — settling into a groove.

Buchanan ran into some trouble in the sixth inning, which turned out to be his final inning of work.

Bismarck got its first two hitters on, but a heads-up play by third baseman Tyler Johnson to watch a two-strike bunt roll foul recorded the first out. Buchanan cleaned up the rest with a pop up in the infield and a groundout with the bases loaded to escape the jam unblemished.

Lardy’s evening finished in the bottom of the sixth inning. He hit his pitch count limit after striking out a pair of Metros’ batters to start the frame. Josh Kolling replaced him on the mound and got the last punch out to send Minot down in order.

The Metros turned to closer Stewart to shut the door in the seventh. He secured two quick outs before giving up singles to Jack Trottier and pinch-hitter Seth Dietz.

With the Capitals down to their final strike, Reece Trottier smacked a two-run double to the warning track in left field to tie the game at 3-3. However, Bismarck left the go-ahead runner on third base after Minot second baseman Tyler Budeau made a sprawling stop in the infield.

The Metros weren’t as fortunate in the eighth inning. Dietz snuck a ground ball past a diving Landon Halseth to take the lead, 4-3, in the extra frame.

Minot got two runners on via walks in the bottom half, but a double play abruptly ended the contest. The Metros finished with three runs on only three hits. Jonas Bubach, Calvin Baker and Stewart had the base knocks.

Bismarck racked up 11 hits as a team. Mitzel, Dietz, Kolling and Jack Trottier finished with two hits apiece.

“After that loss in the first game, which was a tough one, I think we were just kind of down,” Cooper said. “That can’t happen, but sometimes it does. You have to refocus and play hard. I don’t think we refocussed after that one.”

The Capitals kicked off the nightcap in the same fashion as Game 1; Mitzel brought in the first run of the game off an RBI single.

The gap ballooned out to 5-0 in the second inning following back-to-back two-run singles by Shea Huntington and Keegan Glatt.

Minot pulled one run back on a throwing error in the bottom half, but Reece Trottier responded with an RBI single in the third.

Cooper was ejected from the game shortly after for arguing balls and strikes. Frustrations had been boiling over throughout the doubleheader, and Cooper made a vocal scene at home plate before leaving the venue.

“I felt like there was inconsistency,” he said. “I’d ask where the pitch missed, and I would get ignored. So, that was getting frustrating. I wanted to stick up for my pitcher (Carter Mowbray). He was up there working hard, and it looked like he was throwing a ton of strikes but he wasn’t getting the calls.”

A handful of Metros players clapped in support of their coach as Cooper finally made his way out of the ballpark.

“It shows that they support you too,” Cooper said. “And that your players have your back, which is a good thing to see as a coach.”

A throwing error trying to turn a double play pushed Bismarck’s lead to 8-1 in the fourth inning. The third hit of the game for both Huntington and Mitzel scored the final runs in the fifth inning, 10-1.

The Metros were held to two hits by Mitzel, who finished 3-for-4 with two RBIs at the plate by himself.

Minot returns to action at 5 p.m. this evening against another Bismarck team, the Representatives, at Corbett Field in Minot.

“It’s always a new day,” Cooper said. “We get to come back and, hopefully, improve from the day before. That’s one of the nice things about baseball. You don’t play like every Friday night. You get to come back and play right away. It will be good for these guys.”

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

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