Cando shuts out Hazen

BEULAH – One day after Cando pitcher Jake Hagler scattered five hits in the Bearcats’ first-round win, his teammate Brooks Larson did him one better.

The 18-year-old right-hander hurled a complete-game two-hitter Thursday at Goldmann Field as Cando advanced to the third round of the American Legion Class B State Tournament with a 6-0 shutout of the Hazen Astros.

“This is definitely the biggest game I’ve ever played in by far,” said Larson, who struck out six. “We’re at the state tournament, it doesn’t get much bigger than that. I knew we really needed this one to keep going.”

Cando (16-11) plays Grafton at 7:30 tonight. Hazen (13-15) dropped into the losers bracket and faces an elimination game at 2:30 p.m. against LaMoure.

Larson kept Hazen off the bases entirely in four of the seven innings and had a no-hit bid going into the sixth inning.

“He got lots of easy outs – ground balls, pop flies,” Cando coach Jesse Vote said. “He threw strikes, control was great. He had a great outing.”

The Bearcats opened the scoring in the top of the first to give Larson a 2-0 lead.

Center fielder Dan Grande led off with a single to right-center and Jake Hagler reached two batters later on a fielder’s choice that failed to force Grande out at second. After Steven Hunt popped out to the shortstop, third baseman Christian Kvilvang dropped a lazy bloop single into shallow right field, scoring Grande and Hagler.

“They had that little boot there at second base and that just kind of snowballed into them getting a couple runs,” Hazen coach Scott Leintz said. “You fall in a hole against a good team like that and it’s tough to climb back out.”

Cando and Hazen recorded only one hit apiece in the second through sixth innings.

Larson kept the Astros at bay, tossing fastball after fastball and then fooling batters with a timely curveball. He also had some help from his defense, namely a spectacular diving catch by Grande to end the third inning.

“I’m a pitcher who lets them put in it play and lets my defense make plays behind and they did a great job,” Larson said. “They made a lot of great plays, especially that diving play by Grande.”

Hazen finally broke up Larson’s no-hitter with one out in the sixth when shortstop Karson Hintz lined a 3-2 fastball to left field for a single.

In the top of the seventh, Cando put the game out of reach with RBI hits from Jayden Komrosky, Hagler and Hunt. Leintz credited the Bearcats with their tenacity to fight for a spot in the third round.

“You could see in their body language they wanted the game, and they went out and got it,” Leintz said.

Ryan Holmgren covers Legion baseball and high school sports. Follow him on Twitter @ryanholmgrenMDN.