Potent offense powers Lions over Garrison-Max

Bishop Ryan left Corbett Field on April 15 having suffered its first Region 6 loss of the season against Velva-Drake-Anamoose due to a lack of clutch hitting and an inability to drive the baseball.

It was quite the opposite on Tuesday.

The Lions left Jack Hoeven Park brimming with confidence following a doubleheader sweep of Garrison-Max. Ryan won by a combined 37-2 score – 27-2 in Game 1, 10-0 in Game 2.

“This is the way we should be playing,” Ryan coach Brent Nelson said. “In that game against Velva, we left way too many baserunners on and didn’t get that big hit. Today, we came out and really attacked the ball.”

Ryan pummeled the ball to the tune of 15 hits in Game 1, four of which went for extra bases. The Lions also drew 11 walks, including a stretch during the second inning in which G-M pitchers Gabe Lassila and Reid Groninger combined to walk five straight.

In each of the first two innings, every Ryan starter scored at least once.

“They hit the ball really well today. They hit the gaps quite often,” Garrison-Max coach Jade Larson said. “We just didn’t make the outs that we needed to make.”

The Lions came out firing in the first. The only Ryan player not to score the first time through the lineup was junior Dakota Johnson, who scored following his second plate appearance of the first inning.

Senior Jared Will, Ryan’s No. 9 hitter, fell a home run short of the cycle, going 4-for-4 with a double, a triple, three runs scored and three RBIs.

“I’m proud of all nine guys,” Nelson said. “The bottom end of our order has been struggling the past couple games, and they really stepped up today. It was good to see.”

All but one Ryan starter reached base safely at least three times. All nine finished with an RBI. Four of the nine drove in three or more.

“We’ve really gotten after it in practice, learning how to hit the ball, having good approaches at the plate,” senior outfielder Mason Kramer said. “We’re hitting 1-through-9 like we were earlier in the season. We kind of got away from that and dropped a few games.”

Two of Ryan’s Game 1 runs came via the long ball. Senior infielder Tanner Sanders took Lassila deep to left field in the second inning, a blast that Sanders admitted needed help from the out-blowing wind.

“I didn’t know for sure,” said Sanders, who went 2-3 along with 4 RBIs. “The wind carried it quite a ways.”

The Lions hit the ball well on Tuesday, but the Troopers didn’t help themselves on defense.

G-M committed four errors in the field. Lassila and Groninger also combined for 10 wild pitches, mistakes that consistently brought Ryan baserunners into scoring position.

“We’ve just gotta keep working on field work,” Larson said. “Hopefully we’ll come around and keep games a lot closer.”

It took three innings for the Lions to wrap up Game 2. They won 10-0.

Ryan (7-3 overall, 2-1 region) hopes to continue its momentum into Thursday when it takes on Surrey-Our Redeemer’s Christian School in a 4 p.m. doubleheader in Surrey.

“We’re hoping that we can keep it rolling,” Nelson said. “Today was a good region win. Let’s keep it going.”

Joe Mellenbruch covers high school sports and

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