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Sabre Dogs persevere, defeat Pioneers 7-4

Jimmy Lafakis/MDN Souris Valley's Mason Dinesen (center) greets teammates after hitting a home run in the first inning of Saturday afternoon's game against the Western Nebraska Pioneers at Corbett Field. The Sabre Dogs earned a 7-4 victory.

In one fluid sidearm motion, Dylan Roach tossed one of Saturday afternoon’s most critical pitches at Corbett Field.

The Western Nebraska Pioneers (4-5) loaded the bases with two outs in the top of the seventh inning against the Souris Valley Sabre Dogs (4-4). The Pioneers had scored two runs in the frame, so Roach needed to stop the bleeding.

The reliever secured the pivotal popout with one pitch — the epitome of efficiency. Souris Valley seized the momentum and captured a 7-4 victory on the Fourth of July.

“I’m just trying to get in the zone and throw strikes,” Roach said. “If I throw strikes, I always think they’re going to get themselves out. Why beat myself when they can beat themselves?”

Mason Dinesen provided the early fireworks with a towering solo blast to left field in the first inning. In the third, the Pioneers scored two runs off the strength of RBI singles.

Dinesen wasn’t done, however. His RBI single in the bottom of the third knotted the score at 2-2. Nik Levensteins, who belted two home runs on Friday, provided a productive at-bat with an RBI groundout to second base.

In the top of the fourth, Souris Valley starter Marcelo Terrazas escaped a jam. The Pioneers threatened to score with runners in scoring position, but Terrazas used his breaking ball to his advantage.

The Sabre Dogs plated three key runs in the sixth. With the bases loaded and no outs on the board, Chase Alford scored a run with a single. Davis Wilber added a sacrifice fly before Allen Grier knocked another RBI single to center field.

“We kind of struggled in the Badlands series — those six games with the bats,” Souris Valley head coach Corey Thompson said. “Our two wins were, I think, because of our pitching. The last two to three games have been really good offensively.”

Western Nebraska did not relent. After the Pioneers loaded the bases, two hit batsmen brought home two runs.

The score shifted to 6-4, but Roach answered the call of duty.

“He knows his role,” Thompson said. “He does it very well.”

The deflated Pioneers did not score another run for the rest of the game. The Sabre Dogs embraced Roach as he returned to the first-base dugout.

“I’m kind of the weird guy on the team,” Roach said. “I think a lot of guys like that. It’s baseball. You’ve got to have fun and be weird, you know?”

The Sabre Dogs increased their cushion after Josh Solomon scored a run in the bottom of the seventh. Reliever Austin Glaze earned the save after retiring all six Pioneers he faced in the final two innings.

The fans who filled the packed house went home happy. Thompson was encouraged by the strong turnout for the matinee.

“It was hot, but it was fun,” he said. “Last year, we had the Fourth of July where we did a late game. Everybody was at the lake. This year, it was good to see them come out for a two o’clock game.”

Souris Valley exploded for 11 hits in the contest. After securing a two-game winning streak, the Sabre Dogs will go for the series sweep at 2:05 p.m. this afternoon.

“I think we’re just getting started,” Roach said. “We still haven’t shown our real potential. We’re going to start steamrolling some teams real quick here.”

Jimmy Lafakis covers Minot High School sports and Class B high school sports. Follow him on Twitter @JJLII30.

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