Pitching dooms Vistas

It was ugly from the start and it got a lot uglier.

After a six-day break, the Minot Vistas got blasted by Fargo 17-6 on Monday at Corbett Field.

Fargo jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the first inning as Vistas pitcher Demitry Zafra struggled to throw the ball over the plate. Zafra was pulled after getting just one out. Three of his six wild pitches allowed runners to score and he plunked three batters and walked three more.

Reliever Grant Larson didn’t fare much better. The lefty gave up nine of Fargo’s 12 second-inning runs, which included a pair of three-run home runs for the visitors.

Minot (15-10) salvaged the afternoon with a 5-4 win in the second game of the American Legion baseball doubleheader. The games did not count toward the state standings.

“Demitry’s mechanics were really bad,” Vistas coach Todd Larson said. “He knows that. His body language was bad on the hill. I mean, everything was negative.

“Then Grant came in in the first inning and got those two outs and I thought, ‘All right! Maybe he’s gonna go a ways,’ but then he came out in the second. He walked three, hit a guy, (they) got the long home run It starts on the hill. We weren’t very good on the hill.”

First baseman Joe Hallock hit the first home run, a towering shot to left that smacked high off a tree beyond about 330 feet at the fence. Hallock’s first homer of the season brought in the first three runs of the second inning. Nine of the next 10 Fargo batters scored in the frame.

“Honestly, home runs are just reacting to the pitch,” Hallock said. “There’s nothing much to it. Just put a good swing on it and it happened to go far enough that it cleared the fence.”

Designated hitter Aaron Green drove in the final three runs of the inning with his third home run of the season. This one came off of Minot reliever Austin Eggl and also went to left field.

“They didn’t pitch the best that they’ve probably pitched all season,” Fargo coach Lucas Rustad said, “but the good part is we got baserunners and our hitters took advantage and were able to – besides just find some gaps – put a few over the fence today and that’s good to see.”

Eggl relieved Grant Larson with just one out in the second inning and finished the game, which ended in five innings because of the run rule. Fargo (23-9) scored once more in the fourth inning with Seth Amundson’s game-high fourth run.

Fargo starter Stephen Howlett earned the win and his bullpen survived a five-run rally in the bottom of the fifth inning.

“We talked after the game (about) trying to build on the momentum of that fifth inning when we scored five runs,” Todd Larson said. “I thought we did that better in game two. I thought we were better offensively. And Casey Ryan, that’s his first start of the summer for us. He’s thrown a couple relief appearances. He was real good as a starter today, so I’m very happy for him.”

Ryan never let the game out of control despite falling behind 3-0 through the top of the fourth. Minot tied the game in the bottom half on a two-run single by Alex Mack.

The Vistas added two more runs in the fifth inning and Fargo scored just once more on a Brady Lampert throwing error from third base.

Jacob Holmen earned the save, relieving Ryan after a leadoff hit in the top of the seventh. Holmen retired the next three batters.

“It just felt good getting the start instead of relief because in past years I started,” Ryan said. “My fastball really worked pretty good and my curveball, at times here and there, was working pretty good.”

Fargo reliever Tyler Anderson was the losing pitcher.

The Vistas travel to Williston for a state standings doubleheader Wednesday. Game one starts at 5:30 p.m.

Tim Chapman reports on the Vistas and Minot High School athletics. Follow him on Twitter @Chapmatp.