Lakers surge into Region 7 championship game

The Des Lacs-Burlington baseball team will get another crack at Watford City.

The Lakers made sure of that Monday, defeating Mohall-Lansford-Sherwood-Glenburn-Kenmare-Bowbells 10-6 at Jack Hoeven Park to advance to the Region 7 championship. DL-B plays Watford City today at 3:30 p.m. and, if the Lakers win, at 5:45 p.m. for a spot in the state tournament.

Things didn’t start the way the Lakers would have liked as they found themselves trailing 6-2 after 1 1/2 innings. The Muskrats – fresh off their 9-3 victory over Lewis & Clark in their first elimination contest of the day – came out swinging, recording eight hits in their first at-bats.

“We definitely got into a rhythm,” M-L-S-G-K-B coach Cale Peterson said. “Our bats were able to get hot late in the first game and we were able to come out early in the second game and put the bat on the ball.”

The Muskrats plated five in the second – all with two outs. Connor Brackenbury doubled home two and Ryley Brown drove in two more with a triple to right field. Talon Thompson capped off the two-out rally with an RBI single to right-center.

It was all DL-B from there as the Lakers began chipping away at the Muskrats’ lead. DL-B cut the deficit to 6-4 after two innings and and took its only lead of the game with a four-run third. The Lakers took advantage of M-L-S-G-K-B’s inability to throw strikes in the inning. The Muskrats walked four in the frame, the final one coming with the bases loaded to tie the game. Alex Davy delivered a two-out single though the right side to give the Lakers an 8-6 lead.

“We just fight,” DL-B coach Andy Lach said. “You saw it the other day against Watford City. You saw it today. We were down early and they had all the momentum. We just kept competing. It’s a long game. We’ve kind of learned throughout the season that as long as you have a bat in your hand, you can do some things.”

After a rough start, DL-B’s Austin Schestler found his stride on the mound over the final five innings. He allowed just two hits over that span and retired eighth straight batters entering the sixth.

“I just kept my nose to the grindstone,” Schestler said. “My catcher told me to keep locating and that’s what I did and it came out good.”

The Lakers scratched across a run in both the fifth and sixth to give Schestler a little extra insurance entering the seventh. He didn’t need it, though things got interesting when M-L-S-G-K-B loaded the bases with no outs to open the inning. But Schestler got Brett Froseth to pop up to him on the mound and doubled off Brown at third. Statler Olson flied out to short to end the game.

“He’s a senior,” Lach said of Schestler. “He’s a kid that’s been with us since he was an eighth-grader. We’re short on pitching right now. We’re facing the possibility of two more games tomorrow. I just kept communicating with him and he said he was good to go. His pitch count got up pretty high, but he’s an older kid and he’s thrown a lot for us. He just gutted it out.”

Schestler recorded 10 strikeouts to set up a rematch with Watford City. The Wolves defeated DL-B 8-7 in eight innings Saturday.

“For tomorrow, we have nothing to lose,” Lach said. “Watford City comes in highly touted in the state. We’re just going to get after it and see what happens.”

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