MHS gets first true home baseball wins since flood

The Minot High School baseball team finally got true home games Tuesday, but the Magicians had to battle a 19-degree wind chill and 35 mph wind gusts.

In the team’s first home game since the 2011 flood, the Magicians (4-0 overall, 4-0 West Region) handled the blustery conditions well with a 20-6, run-rule rout of Bismarck St. Mary’s at Jack Hoeven Park. MHS won the second game 11-1 in four innings. The Magicians played some home games in Surrey last season with city parks still being repaired.

Junior outfielder Chandler Jacob led the hot MHS offense with five RBIs in the first game. Jacob, batting sixth in the order, hit a bases-clearing triple in the first inning and drove in two more runs with a single in the second inning. He added two more RBIs in the second game.

“I’ve been working hard and it’s paid off,” Jacob said. “I was just looking for that right pitch and getting late in the count and working it a little bit to find my pitch.”

Jacob was one of five Magicians with multiple RBIs as MHS took advantage of shaky St. Mary’s pitching, which allowed runners to advance or score on six passed balls in game one.

“(Jacob’s) been swinging a nice bat. He’s been using the whole field,” MHS coach Pete Stenberg said. “His first couple hits were opposite field. He’s just nice and steady. He hasn’t been pressing and he’s got some pretty good speed too, putting up extra-base hits. He’s just nice and focused.”

The first-inning triple gave MHS the lead after junior pitcher Demitry Zafra gave up two runs to start the game. It was a cruel upper-Midwest awakening for the Florida transfer in his first home start. Zafra, bothered by the cold, hit three consecutive batters in the first inning and plunked two more in the third inning.

An eight-run second inning for MHS ensured Zafra (2-0) the win. He struck out two Saints in the second inning, but gave up two singles to start the third and those runners scored on a passed ball and a wild pitch.

“He had a tough day,” Stenberg said. “He wasn’t used to throwing in this weather and he’s gonna have better outings. … That’s just the way it goes. He’ll get another chance Saturday and get after it.”

Zafra picked up his first win as a reliever against Dickinson in much warmer weather on Friday. He struck out seven and gave up just one hit in that outing.

It was senior Caleb Fornshell’s turn to steady the team in relief during Tuesday’s first game. Fornshell gave up just one run on three hits in three innings and struck out four.

“We were just throwing a lot of fastballs,” Fornshell said. “It just took awhile to get warmed up in the weather. You didn’t have a lot of feeling in your hands, but that came back after a few outs.”

Fornshell said he benefited from starting the game at second base and having the ability to keep active in the frigid wind.

“He just came in and threw strikes,” Stenberg said. “He knew that in this type of game he needed to just get the ball into (catcher) Zach’s (Danelson) mitt and pitch to contact and let the defense do the work behind him. … He’s the senior now, he knows what he’s gotta do – come out and throw strikes and that’s what he did.”

Junior pitcher Shawn Danielson tossed a one-hitter in the second game, striking out eight of the 12 batters he faced. MHS junior Kolton Larson and sophomore Alex Mack finished the doubleheader with four RBIs apiece.

St. Mary’s senior Brian Jordan and junior William Renner were the losing pitchers.

“For us, our biggest thing is pitching,” St. Mary’s coach Reid Flaagan said after game one. “We don’t return very many varsity, so only a handful. The guys that were out there today were JV pitchers last year.”

MHS hosts Mandan at 4:30 p.m. Friday and plays at noon Saturday at Jamestown.