A Hill to climb

VELVA – Bottineau starting pitcher Andrew Hill wasted no time in supporting his own cause Wednesday in Post 42’s 10-2 win over Velva.

Leading off at the plate, Hill took an offering from Velva starter Brad Dean over the right-field wall – the third pitch of the game – to give Bottineau a 1-0 lead.

Hill took over from there, limiting the home team to just one hit in five innings on the hill.

“Anytime you can get an early run, it’s big for momentum,” Hill said. “That’s the game of baseball. You get momentum, stay ahead with it and you’ll win ballgames.”

Hill inspired another bout of Post 42 production with two outs in the third.

Following a pair of Dean strikeouts to kick the inning off, Hill blasted his second home run in as many at-bats to double his team’s advantage.

“It’s definitely a jump-start when you get something like that,” Bottineau coach Derek Aus added. “Andrew worked himself into good counts on both of those at-bats and put some good swings on the ball.”

With the rain beginning to fall, it got dicey for Dean after that. The next five Bottineau batters reached safely – two walks, two singles and a double – four of which scored to make it 6-0.

“They put the ball in play,” said Velva coach Matt Weidler, filling in for coach Brent Engebretson. “Brad left a few pitches up today. I know he’s not happy with the way he threw, but we’ve gotta do a little bit better job at the plate, giving him a little more run support. We were agressive, but at the same time we’ve gotta see more pitches. We can’t just go for four pitches an inning.”

Four pitches was all Hill needed to retire the top of Velva’s order in the first. After Dean’s two out single in the second, Post 39’s next hit didn’t come until Dixon Bauer singled with one out in the fifth.

Velva didn’t have a runner reach third base until the sixth.

“You’ve gotta give credit to the pitcher. Their guy was good today,” Weidler said. “But at the same time, you’ve gotta have focus. We’ve played a long season, played a lot of baseball, but at the same time you’ve gotta be locked in and ready to go.”

After adding another run in the fifth, Bottineau tacked on three more in the seventh with Velva reliever Shad Vedaa walking six of the eight men he faced.

Brad Dean and Marcus Mack were the only two Velva players to score.

“We’ll be competitive with everybody if we play like this,” Aus said. “We’ve played the other way too and it hasn’t gone so well. If we play like this, we’ll be in every game.”

In the bottom of the seventh, a flash of lightning brought the game to an early end.

Velva looks to recover today in a home doubleheader against Washburn.

Joe Mellenbruch covers legion baseball and general assignments. Follow him on Twitter @Mellenbruch_MDN.