Bats come alive for Magi in sweep

Top-ranked Minot High struggled at the plate Friday against Mandan, needing 14 batters to collect its first hit en route to a narrow victory. Saturday against Jamestown, the Magicians rediscovered their offensive swagger.

Led by three RBIs from sophomore infielder Ben Bolinske, Minot strolled to an 11-1 victory over the Blue Jays.

The Magicians tallied their runs in bunches, scoring three in the second, four in the third and four more in the fifth to activate the 10-run rule.

“The bats were a little more lively today,” Minot coach Pete Stenberg said. “A little more relaxed than they were yesterday.”

After a scoreless first inning, Minot (3-1 overall, 2-0 West Region) had its way with Jamestown senior Joey Gebhardt, who surrendered seven combined runs in the second and third innings.

Minot junior Grant Larson, the winning pitcher in Game 1, notched the first run of the day following his leadoff double in the second, a blast that one-hopped into the right-field fence. Senior infielder Wesley Johnson brought him in with an RBI single later in the inning.

“We’re all really confident at the plate,” Larson said. “It took a few games for us to get going, but now we’ve got more at-bats under our belts.”

Larson, a lefty, pitched four innings for Minot, giving up one run on two hits and five walks while striking out four.

The Magicians totaled eight hits in Game 1, double the output they produced in their season opener. They also recorded six walks, not to mention the number of errors (3) and wild pitches (4) Jamestown compiled.

“In our first game last night, we played error-free, and to beat teams like Minot, you have to do that night in and night out,” said Jamestown coach Kelley Kessler, whose team dispatched St. Mary’s 11-0 on Friday. “I don’t think we were in the right mental frame. (Minot’s) a good baseball team.

“The good thing about this is that we’ll get them at our place again, and hopefully we fare a little better.”

MHS committed one error in Game 1 but also showcased a handful of defensive gems.

Bolinske and Johnson combined for a crisp 4-6-3 double play in the first inning. In the second, the Magicians picked off two Blue Jay baserunners, including an effort from senior catcher Kolton Larson, who fired a strike right over the first-base bag to rob Jamestown senior Shawn Hogan.

“We’re coming off a split last night with Mandan, so to come out and get a sweep today against Jamestown, which is a quality ball club, it’s nice for the team, especially this early in the season,” Stenberg said.

The Magicians claimed victory in the nightcap, as well, defeating the Blue Jays 8-5. The first six MHS batters reached base safely, and four went on to score, giving the Magicians a lead they never relinquished.

Senior third baseman Brady Lampert scored the final run of the day after scorching the left-center gap for a two-run triple. Lampert, who finished the game with three RBIs, scored following an error from the Blue Jays, their second of the game.

“I think everybody can hit through our entire lineup,” Lampert said. “I think as we get more at-bats, we’re only going to get better.”

Minot plays its first road doubleheader of the season at 4 p.m. Tuesday in Dickinson.

Joe Mellenbruch covers high school sports and general assignments. Follow him on Twitter @Mellenbruch_MDN.