Back in the fold
VELVA – Dixon Bauer hasn’t played baseball since last summer. He’s one of three members of the Post 39 legion baseball team – based in Velva – facing the same scenario, a year removed from the diamond, suddenly thrust back into the mix.
Joining a group that finished fourth at the Class B state tournament in the spring, Bauer understands that it’ll take time for Velva’s older members to get reacclimated to the game.
But he isn’t overly concerned.
“We like where we’re at right now,” Bauer said. “Us older guys are just trying to come in here and mesh as well as possible, and I think we’ve done that nicely in our first few games.”
Velva has enjoyed a productive start to its summer season. Post 39 managed a doubleheader split with Surrey on Wednesday in Velva, winning the first game 8-0 before falling 4-2 in the nightcap.
Three second-inning singles and an error led to Velva’s first two runs of the opener.
Then in the third, Bauer drilled an RBI double to make it 3-0. He finished 2-for-3 at the plate, driving in two and scoring one.
Despite what Velva’s early advantage might suggest, the team’s bats never fired up until the fourth.
RBIs from Bauer, catcher Marcus Mack and starting pitcher Brady Engebretson stretched the Post 39 advantage to eight, the exclamation point to what was far from Velva’s sharpest performance of the summer.
“We’ve come out slow in a couple of games, but we know that we can attack any given inning,” Bauer said. “We can score 4-5 runs in an inning, and sometimes we’ll go down 1-2-3. It just depends, because once our leadoff guy gets on we can really just start an avalanche and start hitting.”
After the opener, Velva coach Brent Engebretson had nothing but praise for Surrey starter John Reiten.
“When you face a guy like (Reiten), he’s always around the strike zone,” Brent Engebretson said. “He does a good job of hitting the edges, and its never the same. So its hard to get comfortable, and we’ve always struggled with him. I’m glad we finally got some good swings in that fourth inning.”
Reiten allowed eight runs – five earned – on 11 hits over four innings on the mound.
For Post 39 (6-2), Brady Engebretson allowed just two hits in a five-inning shutout. But despite finishing with a solid statline, the Velva starter was far from perfect.
“Brady didn’t have his best stuff today – walking guys and 3-0 counts. You do that against Watford City or Beulah, it’s gonna be 8-0 in the first,” Brent Engebretson said. “We got lucky today that Brady was able to get enough strikes and that we scored a couple runs so he could relax.”
Fortunately for Brady Engebretson, the Blue Sox seemed sluggish from the start. They managed to bring four baserunners into scoring position, only one of which reached third.
“I don’t think we brought that much energy to the table,” Surrey coach Jeremy Feller said. “We just kinda went through the motions. Velva is a good team, and they’re gonna make you pay if you’re not ready for them.”
Whatever Surrey lacked in Game 1 returned for it late in the nightcap.
Two RBIs from Bridger Urban and four Velva errors allowed the Blue Sox to erase an early 1-0 deficit in the final two frames. They scored two in both the fourth and fifth innings to induce a series split.
Velva travels to Watford City today for a region doubleheader, which begins at 5:30 p.m.
Vistas doubleheader canceled
Rain spoiled Minot’s trip to West Fargo on Wednesday. According to coach Todd Larson, the doubleheader will not be rescheduled.
The Vistas play Moorhead, Minn. in a doubleheader this afternoon at 5:30.
Joe Mellenbruch covers legion baseball and general assignments. Follow him on Twitter @Mellenbruch_MDN.