Metzger, Hazen shut down No. 3 Thompson

JAMESTOWN – No team competing in this weekend’s Class B state baseball tournament has a better all-time tournament record than Hazen.

Only in their fourth year as an independent program, the Bison dispatched No. 3 seed Thompson 10-3 in a quarterfinal matchup Thursday at Jack Brown Stadium. The victory punctuated the beginning of the Bison’s first-ever state tournament appearance without former co-op partner Beulah.

Hazen takes on No. 2 Grafton in tomorrow’s first semifinal at 4 p.m. The Bison have already met the Spoilers this season, losing a close game in Bismarck 9-7.

Senior Kolby Metzger was the main man for Hazen, picking up the win after a five-inning, two-hit performance on the mound.

“I was just throwing strikes,” Metzger said. “The umpire had a pretty tight zone, so I was trying to work with that. I just threw strikes and let the defense make plays.”

Metzger also helped his own cause with a heavy dose of production at the plate. The 5-foot-9 lefty went 3-for-4 at the dish, including a two-run, third-inning dinger over the left-field wall to put his team in front. He finished with a game-high four RBIs.

Junior outfielder Brian Sitz drove in three runs of his own for the Bison, two of which came on a sixth-inning double down the left-field line.

Thompson starter Ryne Dolleslager allowed four earned runs on six hits and four walks in five innings on the bump.

Following Metzger’s home run in the third, the Bison chipped away at the Tommies until a five-run sixth inning put the game out of reach for the tournament’s No. 3 seed.

“We’ve played close games, we’ve lost ugly, but sometimes you have to go through those things to get better,” Hazen coach Brent Hysjulien said, “and we really have gotten better toward the end of the year.”

Thompson freshman reliever Brett Sutter-Hegg struck out a pair of Hazen batters after a Metzger leadoff single. But the third out eluded Sutter-Hegg to the tune of six walks and an RBI double by Sitz.

The Tommie staff finished with 11 walks on the day. Hazen pitchers Metzger and senior Nate Leintz combined for three.

It doesn’t get any easier for the Bison today as they prepare for the No. 2 seeded Spoilers. Grafton defeated Kidder-Richland 9-4 in its quarterfinal matchup Thursday.

Hazen will be the underdogs again, but that’s fine with Hysjulien. He just needs his players to be ready.

“We know (Grafton) can hit the ball,” he said, “and our defense better be ready for whoever we decide to pitch.”

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