Perfect game against Bismarck propels Magi baseball to state qualifier round

Sean Williams/MDN Eli Nissen (18) of Minot High winds up on the mound during a game that occurred earlier this season at Corbett Field.

JAMESTOWN – After dropping the opening round game of the West Region Tournament to the Mandan Braves, every game the rest of the way is of the utmost importance to the Minot High baseball team if they want to qualify for the state tournament.

Two more wins is what separates the Magi from a state tournament appearance, as they needed to go on a little run in order to accomplish that goal. Up first was a matchup with the Bismarck Demons, who the Magi swept during the regular season.

With their season on the line, the Magi turned to ace pitcher Eli Nissen, who hurled a perfect game and propelled Minot to a state qualifier game with a 3-0 win over the Bismarck Demons.

“Eli has very good command of his pitches. He has put a lot of time and effort into it, and he has earned the success that he has received in his appearances for us. Eli has done a great job of preparing himself, and we know we are going to get everything he has when he is on the mound,” Minot head coach Pete Stenberg said.

Stenberg added, “It’s very ensuring to have Eli on the hill for us and we just let him go out there and do his thing. He is throwing what is asked of him and doing a really good job of hitting his spots and attacking hitters.”

Flipping the script from Thursday’s loss which Minot never had a lead, they wasted no time in putting themselves on top against Bismarck. Jayden Speraw doubled to start the bottom of the second, then was driven in on a single by Jaxson Radke to give Minot a 1-0 lead. Two batters later, the lead was double on a groundout from Hunter Horner to make it a 2-0 ballgame.

Continuing to build their lead in the third, Kellan Burke reached on an error and was driven home on a single by Tyler Collins to help Minot claim a 3-0 advantage over the Demons. From there, the Magi became a little quiet offensively, however, the three-run cushion felt much larger thanks to the perfect pitching performance they received.

Taking the mound against the Demons was left-hander Nissen, who tossed a no-hitter against the Demons the last time these teams met. Even though it didn’t seem possible, Nissen managed to do even better this time, as he tossed a perfect game in seven innings of work.

Coming out of the gates by striking out seven of the first nine Bismarck batters he faced, Nissen showed early signs of being untouchable, and was ready to help the Magi get one step closer to having a shot to play at state.

The early work by Nissen was just the beginning of what ended up being a perfect day on the mound. In the fourth through seventh innings, Nissen managed to pick up at least two strikeouts in each frame and sealed his perfect game off by striking out the side in the seventh.

Facing a total of 21 batters on the day, Nissen retired 17 of them via the strikeout in what was truly a brilliant performance from start to finish. Nissen threw seven innings, allowing no hits on no runs with no walks and 17 strikeouts. He threw 96 pitches for 64 strikes and allowed one ball to leave the infield during his outing.

While the work Nissen did on Friday afternoon was remarkable, credit also needs to be given to the Minot High defense, as perfect games require strong defense and the Magi rose to the occasion behind their pitcher.

The three-run lead by Minot that they obtained earlier in the game proved to be enough, as they went on the top the Demons by the same score.

“Our players are a little more at ease when Eli is on the hill because he is so dominant. I congratulated our guys, but we probably need to play a little better offensively if we want to make our way into next week. We will enjoy this, but it’s also time to refocus and get another good approach,” Stenberg said on the win.

Collins, Horner and Radke led the way for Minot at the plate, as they each picked up one hit and one RBI, followed by Speraw who went 1-for-2 with a double. With the win, the Magi will move on to a state qualifier game. They will face Legacy today at Noon.

“We are going to have to play all three aspects of the game, sometimes you might even have to have a little luck on your side, but we need to play our best baseball. It’s do or die, so we have to go out and leave everything on the field,” Stenberg said on what it will take to secure a state bid.

He added, “If we play the type of baseball that we are capable of, we should be okay. We just want the kids to go out and have fun, remember that it’s still a game but play it as hard as they can.”


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