The Minot Vistas American Legion baseball team knew it couldn’t play much worse defensively than it did when it played Moorhead (Minn.) less than a week ago on the road.
The Vistas committed 14 errors – eight in the opener and six in the nightcap – and were swept in their first doubleheader against an out-of-state opponent this year.
Minot limited itself to just two errors Tuesday when Moorhead visited Corbett Field. The Vistas took the first game 5-2 behind a complete game by Trever Ringoen and a sound defense around him. The Blues didn’t allow Minot’s defense to make plays in the finale as they found the gaps and posted 11 runs in the first inning of an 11-1 decision in five innings.
“We played better defensively and that’s our goal,” Minot coach Todd Larson said. “We still haven’t put together a pitching game, a hitting game and a fielding game and that’s all right. We have time to make that happen and I see good things for these guys. They just have to keep working hard.”
Ringoen had the arduous task of keeping Moorhead’s bats in check. The Blues (8-2) plated 25 runs against the Vistas on Thursday. Ringoen allowed a baserunner in all seven innings, but worked out of trouble with some help from his defense. Jake Magnuson threw out Zach Schroeder attempting to steal in the fifth and Dalton Cooper turned an unassisted double play in the sixth on a hot shot to first base while nursing a 3-2 lead.
Ringoen (1-0) picked up his first win of the season, allowing two runs on seven hits, striking out one and walking four.
“Trever was great again,” Larson said. “He’s pitched two games for us now. It’s a testament to the fact you don’t have to throw the ball 85 or 90 mph. He threw strikes. He pounded the strike zone. As a defensive unit, they like that because the ball’s in play and we’re moving our feet and making plays.”
The Vistas (6-9) took a 2-0 lead in the second inning on a two-run home run by Dalton Cooper to right-center. Cooper’s first long ball of the season came on a 1-1 fastball over the middle of the plate.
“I was just looking for a good pitch to hit and got one and took advantage of it,” Cooper said.
The Blues scored an unearned run in the third and an earned run in the fifth to tie the game at 2. Both runs came off the bat of Austin Skjefte, who finished 2-for-3 with two RBIs in the opener.
Minot recaptured the lead in the bottom of the fifth, taking advantage of two Moorhead errors. Chandler Jacob reached on a throwing error by shortstop Eli Johnson and scored when Jared Benson dropped a routine fly ball along the left-field line.
A sacrifice fly by Jacob and an RBI single by Alex Mack in the sixth gave the Vistas a three-run cushion heading to the seventh.
Minot couldn’t keep Moorhead’s bats at bay in the second game. The Blues put 11 runs on the board in the first inning and chased Austin Eggl after just a third of an inning. Eggl was tagged with nine runs on six hits. Sixteen batters came to the plate for Moorhead in the frame and four recorded multiple RBIs before Minot came to bat for the first time.
“Difference was the ball fell in,” Moorhead coach Bryant Bergeson said. “We hit a couple balls hard the first game, we just couldn’t string enough hits together. We had seven hits in seven innings, which is OK, but the second game in one inning we strung a bunch together and that shows up on the scoreboard.”
All nine batters reached base and scored.
“That wasn’t the start we wanted,” Larson said. “Last time out Austin Eggl pitched a great game for us against Fargo. It’s just one of those situations that no matter what he threw – fastball, changeup, curveball – they were smacking it around. On a positive side, I thought Grant (Larson) and Chandler threw well in relief. We put up goose eggs after that first inning.”
Grant Larson and Jacob allowed just one hit in the final four innings and struck out seven.
The Vistas travel to Mandan on Thursday at 6:30 p.m.
Mike Kraft covers the Minot Vistas and racing during the summer. Follow him on Twitter @MKraft24_MDN.