Magi win 3rd straight West Region game

The Minot High baseball team is looking more and more like the preseason No. 1 ballclub it was expected to be this season and less like the one that endured a midseason slump that saw the Magicians fall under .500 in West Region play

That slump appears to be a thing of the past as Minot defeated Williston 12-2 in five innings Tuesday at Jack Hoeven Park to win its third straight region game. The Magicians (11-9 overall, 6-4 region) scored six runs in the bottom of the fifth in the opener to end the game via mercy rule. Minot had three triples and took advantage of several Coyotoe miscues in the field.

“We attacked the baseball again,” Minot coach Pete Stenberg said. “We had some very good quality at-bats. We had some 1-2 or 0-2 hits throughout the day and that’s what we’ve got to do. We have to stay focused and know that we can drive the baseball better as a team. We’re starting to show that.”

Williston won the nightcap 6-1.

Unlike in previous contests, the Magicians jumped out to an early lead and weren’t the ones trying to claw back from a slow start. Instead, Minot plated three runs in the first as its 1-2-3 hitters came around to score.

Minot senior Brady Lampert singled home Alex Mack after Chandler Jacob scored on a wild pitch. Lampert touched home plate for the final run of the inning. The Magicians brought eight batters to the plate in the opening frame and recorded two hits.

“Jacob (Holmen) set the tone in the first,” Stenberg said. “He got us in on the bats early and we were able to start producing right away. You can put a team down early and that’s what we want to do.”

The Coyotes (6-12, 3-6) pulled within 3-2 with a two-run third inning. Williston took advantage of two Minot errors during the frame. Bryan Langager walked and reached second via a throwing error by Holmen before scoring Williston’s first run on a sacrifice fly by Bailey Zaste. An error by Lampert off the bat of Seth Falcon allowed Adam Kemp to score.

The Magicians atoned for their mistakes in the bottom half of the inning, scoring twice to reclaim a three-run lead. Kolton Larson recorded his second triple in as many games, scoring Grant Larson from first. Kolton Larson scored on an RBI groundout by Holmen.

“We hit the ball better than we have in awhile and we threw lots of strikes and got ahead in the count,” Jacob said. “We got a lot of outs that way and the whole team pitched in. Hitting’s contagious. Once one person starts hitting, it goes through the lineup.”

Minot added a run in the fourth before ending the game with six in the fifth. The Magicians loaded the bases with one out before Wesley Johnson popped out to the shortstop. Williston looked to get out of the inning unscathed, but two passed balls and a triple by both Jacob and Mack gave Minot an 11-2 lead with the game-ending run on third. Mack scored on a wild pitch three pitches later to ensure Minot’s third straight region victory.

“We’ve been talking all year that it’s a long season,” Stenberg said. “You just gotta forget what’s in the past and that’s what they’re doing. Their averages are starting to come up and they’re starting to get multiple hits in games. That’s part of baseball. It’s 90 percent mental and 10 percent physical.”

Holmen recorded the win on the mound, pitching a complete-game one-hitter. Williston’s Thaddeus Thompson had the Coyotes’ only hit – a single to left with two outs in the fourth. Holmen retired Williston in order twice and faced only four batters in two other innings.

Williston’s Bailey Zaste gave Minot fits in the finale. After a leadoff hit by Jacob, Zaste retired the next eight batters. He worked out of trouble in the third, getting Grant Larson to ground out to second with the bases loaded.

The Magicians again loaded the bases in the fifth, but a 6-4-3 double play ended the scoring threat.

Grant Zhakquan connected on a two-run home run in the second for the Coyotes.

“That was a much better effort in the second game all around,” Williston coach Aaron Finders said.

Minot travels to Bismarck on Friday at 4:30 p.m.

Mike Kraft covers Minot High athletics. Follow him on Twitter @MKraft24_MDN.