Vistas beat Mandan for fifth straight win

After dropping a sixth straight game in a loss to Mandan on June 25, the Minot Vistas have won six of their last seven.

The latest win came in a nine-inning rematch with the Chiefs on Monday night – seven days after the first meeting between the teams at Corbett Field.

This time the visitors imploded with four errors in the sixth inning and the Vistas capitalized to force the run rule an inning later to earn a 13-3 American Legion baseball win.

“We have the ability to play well and we showed it for, I’d say, five innings tonight,” Vistas outfielder Austin Berntson said, “and if we can keep playing like those five innings for the rest of the season we’ll be a very hard baseball team to beat.”

Minot left 16 runners on base in the 11-5 loss to the Chiefs last week, but Mandan offered the Vistas plenty of help on the basepaths as the teams split the regular season meetings that count toward the state standings.

Hunter Oothoudt improved to 2-1 on the mound, holding Mandan (4-15 overall, 2-9 state) to three runs on six hits through six innings. The Chiefs broke a 1-1 tie in the top of the sixth on a two-run home run by Logan McDowall. Oothoudt held onto a line drive back to the mound to strand two runners and the game quickly changed in the bottom half.

Berntson battled through a long at-bat to connect on his third single of the night, driving in Caleb Fornshell. The shortstop reached on the first Mandan error. Oothoudt, who finished with five strikeouts, helped his cause with an RBI single before hustling to second base on a second throwing error by Mandan third baseman Alex Weiand.

Berntson was one of two Vistas (14-9, 7-3) in the frame to score on wild pitches from Mandan starter Trever Leingang. The Vistas scored seven runs in the sixth inning.

“We really teach them to be aggressive,” Minot coach Todd Larson said. “It’s a teachable thing, but it’s also an aggressive thing. They do work on little things like that in practice, like if the ball hits the dirt from the catcher’s perspective we’ve got to advance bases. If the ball’s thrown away we’re gonna make ’em play catch. You know, simple things, little things we’re trying to do to become a better baseball team.”

Larson’s son Grant also scored in the sixth inning with help from a Mandan error. Grant hit his second single of the game and advanced to third following an error that allowed Jacob Holmen to reach base.

Grant was then briefly caught in a rundown before Mandan catcher Matt Ziemann overthrew Weiand. Both Minot runners scored on the Chiefs’ fourth snafu.

“We played pretty well, especially through the first five defensive innings, six times at bat,” Mandan coach Ryne Jungling said, “and, you know, one of the things that happens with young teams, you make a couple errors it gave them three or four outs that inning they shouldn’t have and then eventually a team like Minot is gonna hit the baseball.”

Fornshell pitched a 1-2-3 seventh inning of relief and the Mandan miscues continued as Minot scored its final five runs with two outs. Those outs sandwiched two hit batsmen for Minot and pinch hitter Chandler Jacob followed with a two-run triple. Jacob’s hit was overplayed by center fielder Peter Harm, whose jump wasn’t enough to get his glove on the ball while backpedaling.

Pinch hitters Austin Eggl and Brock Krueger followed with singles, Fornshell got his first hit in five at-bats and Marcus Quist ended the game with a two-run double.

“We get down on ourselves after the first couple of innings, but this time the older guys they really stepped up, made sure we were going and going the whole game,” Oothoudt said. “Nine innings of baseball really gets you going. It’s a long game and some people kind of lose focus, so we kept focus in the dugout this time and really held ourselves together.”

The Vistas have six nights off before hosting Fargo in a doubleheader Monday.

“It’s a good thing and a bad thing with the break coming up now,” Todd Larson said. “We do have a lot of injuries right now, so the timing for the break is really good. As far as playing well, the timing isn’t very good because we’re hitting the ball, we’re throwing it pretty well and defending it pretty well.”

The Vistas will practice this afternoon and again Sunday evening. Larson described the following injuries as nagging, but not serious: Holmen (sore foot), Krueger (knee), Brady Lampert (knee), Grant Larson (sore hand).