Two delays, one postponement and one doubleheader didn’t equate to two wins for the Minot Vistas American League baseball team in its season opener against West Fargo on Thursday at Corbett Field.
A day after inclement weather postponed their originally scheduled opener against Grand Forks, the Vistas again were at the mercy of Mother Nature as Thursday’s doubleheader was delayed by a half-hour due to rain.
Minot couldn’t find its offense in the opener, falling 2-0 before dropping an 8-5 decision in the nightcap.
“Thankfully Mother Nature gave us a break tonight,” Minot coach Todd Larson said. “We got out and played 14 innings of baseball, so it’s a good night.”
The Vistas (0-2) couldn’t solve West Fargo pitcher Cameron Bonnema in the opener, recording just two hits. Bonnema had a perfect game through 4 1/3 innings before Minot’s Austin Eggl reached base on a fielding error by Michael Glanville at second. He was caught stealing a few pitches later.
Chandler Jacob broke up Bonnema’s no-hitter with two outs in the sixth. Jacob hit a sharp grounder along the right side that ricocheted off a diving Ben Strahm’s glove at first and dribbled to the edge of the infield. Bonnema struck out Alex Mack looking to end the inning.
“Lights out,” West Fargo assistant coach Todd Rheault said of Bonnema. “He’s going to lead for us all year. He’s a college kid and he was one of our top throwers last year. He’s played in a couple state championship games both legion and high school. He keeps the game flowing and he’s fun to play defense behind.”
Jacob kept the Patriots off the board through the first three innings despite some control issues. He walked two of the first batters, but got Bonnema to ground out to second and struck out Ben Bruenjes to end the threat. Jacob walked the leadoff batter in the second, but a double play started by Eggl at shortstop and a groundout again got the starter out of trouble.
West Fargo broke through in the fourth. Devin Wagenman led off with the game’s first hit and later scored on a passed ball with two outs. A two-out error by Eggl and two walks loaded the bases, but Jacob got Tony Nichols to fly out to left to end the inning.
The Patriots (2-0) pushed across a second run in the sixth inning on an RBI groundout by Matt Barclay.
That was all the run support Bonnema needed as he tossed a complete-game two-hitter, striking out 10 and walking two to get the victory. He ran into a little trouble closing out the game in the seventh. After a leadoff walk to Grant Larson, Bonnema struck out Brady Lampert and Eggl. But a single to center by Hunter Duttenhefer and Glanville’s second error of the ballgame loaded the bases. Bonnema got Trevor Ringoen swinging to end the game.
“Their kid was good,” Larson said of Bonnema. “He’s a college kid from Mayville State. One of the better kids we’ll see this summer. Good to see him, though. They’re a good team.
“Chandler threw well for us. He walked some guys but he certainly battled and gave us a chance to stay within that game.”
Jacob suffered the loss, pitching six innings of two-hit ball. He struck out three and walked six.
It took until the 10th inning of the season, but the Vistas found their offense. Trailing 4-0 in the bottom of the third in the nightcap, Minot doubled its hit total from the previous game and scored three runs.
Lampert plated the first runs of the season with a two-run home run to left field off Barclay. With one out and Mack on second, Lampert drilled a 2-1 offering over the left-field fence to pull the Vistas within 4-2.
“That’s what he’s in that No. 4 spot for,” Larson said. “He put a good swing on that one. That got us going. The kids took a deep breath after that.”
Eggl kept the momentum going with a stand-up triple to left-center and scored on a RBI single to center by Duttenhefer.
The Patriots came back with a four-run fifth to grab an 8-3 lead. After getting the first two outs of the inning, Grant Larson hit a batter and walked two others to load the bases. Todd Larson pulled Grant Larson in favor of Dalton Cooper. West Fargo’s Noah Paper smacked a bases-clearing double to left-center off Cooper. Paper scored when Chase Goodry intentionally got caught in a rundown.
“What happened is the kids are coming off of wood bats in the high school season and hadn’t had a lot of chances to hit with the alumnimum bats,” Rheault said. “I think they felt a little more comfortable. The kid they threw the second game was every bit as good as the first one. We just had better approaches and were swinging at strikes.”
Minot’s final two runs came via wild pitches in the fifth. The Vistas went the final two innings without a hit.
“We told the kids ‘We still have 56 more games to go this year, so don’t get frustrated after two games,'” Todd Larson said. “We’re all right. We’re going to be all right.”
The Vistas host Fargo today at 5:30 p.m. at Corbett Field.
Mike Kraft covers the Minot Vistas and racing during the summer. Follow him on Twitter @MKraft24_MDN.