Metros end skid
Leave it to the Las Vegas native to put on his best poker face during a tense, seventh-inning jam.
After the Minot Metros built a four-run lead, three errors and two timely singles allowed visiting Mandan to cut the lead to two and load the bases, putting the tying run in scoring position.
It didn’t rattle Metros pitcher Conor Taney.
With a steel demeanor, Taney, who’s family recently moved from Sin City to the Magic City, induced a flyout to escape the seventh inning with a 5-3 win and help Minot salvage a doubleheader split after dropping the opener 4-2 in eight innings.
“I was just trying to throw to contact because it was a pretty close call with the bases loaded,” Taney said. “I just needed to throw a strike there.”
The right-hander struck out six and recorded the complete-game win, scattering four hits and two walks over the duration while allowing zero earned runs.
“He kept them off balance,” Metros coach Jason Steele said. “His fastball was down and he was able to throw his off-speed for strikes and he was able to throw it outside of the zone to make them chase. He did his job. He pounded the zone for strikes.”
Left fielder Alex Arrayan led off the bottom of the first with a walk for Minot, and advanced on a wild pickoff attempt from Mandan pitcher Garrett Murphy, who took the loss. He reached third on a passed ball and scored on Trever Ringoen’s sacrifice fly to left to put the Metros up 1-0.
Mandan tied the game at 1 on a throwing error in the third inning before Minot responded with four unanswered runs – one in both the third and fourth and two in the fifth.
Arrayan stole another base and scored again in the third, while a balk advanced Tyler Mosser to home in the fourth. The next inning, Ringoen singled to drive in Liam Owens from third and later scored as Tyler Steenerson reached on a throwing error.
After the Metros (13-15) struggled to supply run support in the first game, Taney welcomed the four-run lead.
“It’s good to have five runs instead of two, because I think I gave up three,” he said with a grin.
Taney struck out two batters in the midst of a flurry of Minot errors in the final frame before getting Ty Leingang to fly out to shortstop to end the game.
Despite the errors behind him, Taney’s confidence was unwavering.
“I knew that after that, my team wouldn’t give up another error,” he said.
Arrayan went 2 for 3 in the nightcap and scored two runs, while Ringeon and Cody Reynolds each went 1 for 3 with an RBI.
In the opener, the Metros (13-15) rallied to score two runs in the bottom of the seventh inning for force an eighth frame.
That set the stage for Mandan’s Mason Schlosser to drill a two-run single to center field with one out in the top of the eighth.
Coach Jake Kincaid said his team was due for a clutch hit.
“I think timely hitting is something we’ve struggled with all year,” he said, “so it was really nice to see (Schlosser’s) approach at the plate, jump on something he could handle. It felt good to step up in a big spot.”
Richard Bendesh came on to close out a 1-2-3 eighth and notch the save for Mandan.
Tyler Mosser suffered the loss, giving up two earned runs, five hits and one walk over eight innings to go with a strikeout. Leingang claimed the win for Mandan.
Taney highlighted Minot at the plate, going 2 for 4, while Braden Lach went 1 for 3 with an RBI.
Steele said Minot, which plays a home doubleheader today against Grand Forks at noon, needs to build off the win in the nightcap.
“It’s going to have to be (a boost),” he said. “We haven’t been playing good baseball, so hopefully that win will kind of push us in the right direction and lead us out of the downhill slide we’ve kind of been on.
“All year it’s kind of been like a see-saw, and we’re two weeks away from the state tournament now so we have to start playing our best baseball. So hopefully that’ll push us in the right direction.”
Ryan Holmgren covers Legion baseball and high school sports. Follow him on Twitter @ryanholmgrenMDN.