Beulah takes third in defensive battle

MANDAN – The Beulah baseball team finished as the Class B state champions last year, but faced the reality of finishing fourth this year.

Trailing by a run early, the Miners plated three runs in the third and held on for a 3-1 victory against Carrington in the third-place game Saturday at Mandan Memorial Ballpark.

Beulah only managed together four hits, but it was all it needed to get past the Cardinals, who also finished with four hits. Beulah senior Karson Hintz led the offense with two hits and classmate Trevor Zacher had the Miners’ only RBI.

Carrington sophomore Brady Smith gave the Cardinals a one-run lead with an RBI single in the first inning, driving in senior Taylor Skytland, who led off the frame with a walk. Smith finished 2-for-3 with a stolen base to lead Carrington.

Beulah – still reeling from a 3-1 loss to Grafton earlier in the day – went down in order in the first two innings before breaking out with three runs in the third. Carrington pitcher Marcus Hewitt ran into some control issues in the third, walking two, throwing two wild pitches and balking once.

“If we had lost two in a row that would have been really disheartening,” Beulah coach Bob Koch said. “We weren’t ready to go. That first game took a lot out of us. It was an emotional loss and I was proud of the way they came back. We had to get on them a little bit, but they did a good job and did enough to get it done.”

The Cardinals loaded the bases in the bottom half of the third with two outs, but junior Patrick Freeman flew out to center field to end the inning. Carrington left seven runners on base.

“We had our chances to score a couple runs with the bases loaded, but we couldn’t get them across,” Carrington coach Wayne Shipman said. “I figured for us to even have a chance, we’d have to be getting close to double digits. We only needed four. That’s the way it goes. Baseball’s a funny game.”

Beulah senior pitcher Cody Nelson earned the win, allowing one run and striking out four over five innings.

“He kept us right in the game,” Koch said. “We weren’t ready to go at the beginning of the game. He kept (Carrington) off-balanced, kept them off the scoreboard. That’s all we ask for.”

Prior to their meeting in the third-place game, both teams were on the wrong side of their respective semifinal games. Carrington took a 4-2 lead into the fifth inning before Central Cass put 12 runs on the board to end the game in a 14-4 run-rule-shortened contest.

In a closer contest, Beulah dropped a 3-1 decision to Grafton in a rematch of last year’s title game. Zacher took a no-hitter into the sixth inning despite trailing 1-0. The Spoilers got on the board in the first inning on a two-out error by Miners second baseman Evan Mellmer, allowing leadoff batter Brett Longtin to score from third.

The Miners tied the game in the sixth on an RBI single by senior Mark Muscha before Grafton responded with two runs in the bottom half of the inning. The Spoilers registered three hits in the inning after being no-hit through the first five frames. Grafton senior Jaime Villarreal broke the tie with a two-RBI single with the bases loaded.

Villarreal was lights out on the mound, allowing one run on six hits over seven innings. He struck out 11, including Nelson looking for the final out of the game.