Not finished yet
JAMESTOWN – The Minot Vistas still have a pulse.
The Vistas saved their best performance of the year for when there was no margin for error, defeating Mandan 10-0 in eight innings Thursday in a Class AA American Legion baseball state tournament elimination game at Jack Brown Stadium. Minot advanced to play Fargo Post 400 today at 11 a.m. while the Chiefs became the first team eliminated from the tournament.
A day after allowing nine runs to West Fargo – while mustering just six hits themselves and committing four errors – the Vistas responded by piling up 15 hits and playing error-free baseball behind starting pitcher Demitry Zafra, who tossed a one-hitter.
“We talked about playing the perfect game hitting, pitching and defense and for the first time this year, we really got all three down,” Minot coach Todd Larson said.
The Vistas gave Zafra all the run support he needed in the first inning. Following a leadoff walk to Chandler Jacob, Alex Mack crushed the first pitch he saw from Mandan starter Parker Harm over the left-field fence for Minot’s first home run of the tournament. The Vistas added a third run when Travis Walker drew a bases-loaded walk.
The Chiefs were never able to solve Zafra, who will play at Southwest Minnesota State in the fall. The right-hander retired the first eight batters he faced before Jarad Zittleman singled to right for Mandan’s lone base hit. Zafra allowed just three baserunners, none of which advanced past second
“It’s the best (my arm’s) felt all season,” Zafra said. “I prepared for it really well last night just thinking about it. I came out like I needed to. Everything was just working for me my fastball, curveball and changeup.”
As has been the case with Zafra all season, he got stronger as the game progressed. He retired 11 of the final 12 batters he faced. He struck out six and walked two for his third win of the season.
“You have to give credit to Zafra on the hill,” Mandan coach Ryne Jungling said. “When he’s on, he’s dynamic. He kept the ball around the plate. He has quite a bit of movement and he kept guys off the bases. He was pretty dominant today.”
After surrendering a three-run lead late to West Fargo on Wednesday, Larson urged his team not to let up. The Vistas didn’t, doubling their scoring output in the fourth on a Grant Larson three-run home run over the ivy in right field.
“I saw a fastball on that pitch,” Larson said. “I think he started me off with a slider away. I knew coming in he was going to be a tough left-hander and I just had to wait for him to leave one over the middle. He did on that at-bat. He got me the first two (at-bats) and I just got his one mistake of the day.”
All nine Vistas recorded a hit and five had two or more. Jacob led the way, going 3-for-4 with a double, two RBIs and two runs scored. Minot recorded a hit in all eight innings.
The Vistas chased Mandan starter Parker Harm after six innings. He allowed six runs on 10 hits, walking four and striking out two. Minot scored four more runs on reliever Bryce Andresen in 11/3 innings.
“We had a lot of production 1-9 offensively,” Todd Larson said. “We really put a lot of pressure on them early. Parker Harm is one of the better pitchers in the state. We worked the pitch count really well. Grant got the big swing in the fourth that really separated us.”
Mike Kraft covers the Minot Vistas and general assignments. Follow him on Twitter @MKraft24_MDN.