Larson locks in
Wednesday evening at Corbett Field proved the be the perfect setting to break out of a slump for Minot’s Garrett Larson.
The Metros designated hitter improved his batting average by 56 points with two standout performances in a doubleheader sweep of the Mandan A’s.
Larson, who entered with a .230 hitting clip, recorded two hits, RBIs and two runs in an 11-3 win in the opener, then went a perfect 4-for-4 with one RBI and a run in the nightcap to lead Minot past the A’s 7-1.
Larson’s hitting woes had been weighing on him.
“Garrett has been frustrated lately,” Metros coach Jason Steele said. “He’s been really productive for us, he just hasn’t been getting base hits. He’s been driving the ball to the right side, giving himself up. He’s been bunting. He’s been walking. He’s been getting hit. But he hasn’t been driving the baseball, so that was really nice to see him do that tonight.”
“I haven’t been hitting well lately, but tonight was good,” Larson added with a big grin.
Larson, who tallied five singles and one double, reached base frequently in the early going as the Metros (16-10) built 7-0 leads by the fourth inning in both games.
The lofty cushion allowed Minot starters Conor Taney and Tyler Mosser to settle in on the hill. Taney worked three innings before allowing a hit while Mosser scattered two hits over his first five innings of work.
“I thought (the early leads) were pretty important,” Mandan coach Jake Kincaid said. “I thought both of their guys on the hill threw really well. We just couldn’t string anything together. … It was big for them to get out early, absolutely.”
As Taney and Mosser remained productive on the mound, Minot’s bats kept hot, yielding 25 hits on the day – including four from right fielder Austin Burckhard.
Larson, the No. 2 hitter, had a contagious effect in the second game. He singled in four separate innings – all hard grounders to left field – and had at least one teammate produce a hit in each of those frames.
Kincaid admitted he had trouble searching for an answer.
“I looked at my assistant coach and said, ‘I don’t think we’ve gotten this kid out all day,’ ” Kincaid said. “I was impressed with him.”
Steele was equally impressed with his two hurlers.
Both went the duration, with Taney allowing two earned runs on seven hits and two walks with four strikeouts and Mosser giving up an earned run on four hits and two walks with six Ks.
“Conor and Tyler threw really well,” Steele said. “They challenged hitters, so that was nice to see.”
The Metros, who host Beulah in a doubleheader today at 5:30 p.m., have eight games remaining until the Junior Legion state tournament July 23-27 in West Fargo.
“This was huge. We got the sweep tonight,” Steele said. “We play Beulah tomorrow night, hopefully we can compete and play well.”
Ryan Holmgren covers Minot State athletics and general assignments. Follow him on Twitter @ryanholmgren.