Battling back

With his pitch count at 103 pitches after six innings, there wasn’t a doubt in Demitry Zafra’s mind about going back out on the hill in the seventh.

Zafra told Minot coach Todd Larson he would go out there and record the win. He was true to his word.

The Southwest Minnesota State recruit struck out Robbie Wilkes for the final out of the game as the Vistas American League baseball team defeated Regina (Sask.) 7-6 on Friday at Corbett Field in the Minot Qdoba’s Baseball tournament. Zafra blanked the Wolfpack over the final four innings to record his first win of the season.

“I think Demitry was the key,” Larson said. “I thought he got better in innings four, five, six and seven for us. I had a talk with him after the sixth and he said he wanted to go back out for the seventh and he finished strong. He pitched well those four innings for us.”

Zafra was shaky at the start, surrendering three runs in the first inning. He threw two wild pitches, walked a batter and hit another.

The Wolfpack added two more in the second and another in the third. Regina’s final run was scored via another wild pitch.

“I think I was trying too hard in the first couple of innings and then I started settling in,” Zafra said. “Around the fourth inning I was feeling nice and good.”

Minot’s offense had Zafra’s back as it plated one in the first and four in the second to pull even at 5 after two innings. The Vistas chased Regina starter Alex Galloway after 1 1/3 innings. Minot scored two runs off Galloway via balks. The Wolfpack finished with four balks.

“As far as our pitchers go, I thought they were a little flat,” Regina coach Barry Erickson said. “Four balks. That’s not thinking, not being focused. I guess nobody was expecting to play, because Minot was supposed to have 100 percent rain and flash flood warnings.”

The Vistas grabbed their only lead of the game in the fourth. An RBI single by Brady Lampert drove in Alex Mack to tie the game at 6. Grant Larson followed with an RBI double to deep left-center, plating Lampert for the game-winning run.

“We’ve been hitting really well lately and it’s been great,” Zafra said. “It’s nice knowing your team can hit and get you runs.”

Zafra allowed three hits over the final four innings, working out of jams in the final three. Regina put runners at second and third with one out in the fifth, but a groundout to first by Tristan Boire and a flyout to right field by Derek Frater ended the threat.

The Wolfpack had runners at second and third again in the sixth, but Zafra struck out Kade Erickson and got Ben Komonosky to ground out to Lampert at third.

Zafra scattered eight hits over seven innings, striking out three and walking two.

The Vistas committed four errors, but found a way to win despite not playing their best, something Todd Larson said is an ode to their confidence.

“Two weeks ago I don’t think we win this game,” he said. “Now, we can win a game like that and still not play very well. I feel like we’re just playing with more confidence. We don’t panic. We’re down 3-0 after a half-inning. The kids took a breath, relaxed and battled back.”

The Vistas play Richland County (Mont.) and Spearfish (S.D.) today beginning at 5 p.m. at Corbett Field.

Mike Kraft covers the Minot Vistas and general assignments. Follow him on Twitter @MKraft24_MDN.