JAMESTOWN Ten runs and 18 hits weren’t enough for the Minot Vistas to keep their season alive.
After winning their first two elimination games, the Vistas were eliminated from the Class AA American Legion baseball state tournament in an 18-10 loss to Grand Forks on Friday at Jack Brown Stadium in a game that took more than three hours.
Earlier in the day, Minot prolonged its season by a few hours after defeating Fargo Post 400 8-7 by scoring four runs in the bottom of the ninth.
The Royals broke the game open with a 10-run fifth inning in which they brought 15 batters to the plate. The late-game magic against Post 400 ran out against Grand Forks as the Vistas scored just one run over the final four innings.
Minot jumped out to a 2-0 lead after three innings as Grant Larson connected on his third home run of the tournament, this one a solo shot to right field. Austin Eggl followed with a double and came around to score on Hunter Duttenhefer’s single.
Eggl finished 4-for-5 with two doubles, three RBIs and a run scored in his final game as a Vista.
The lead was short-lived as Grand Forks chased Minot starter Shawn Danielson in the fourth with four runs. The Royals chased Danielson after 3 2/3 innings, beginning a parade of pitching changes, all of which resulted in minimal success.
Trever Ringoen, Duttenhefer, Alex Arrayan, Brady Lampert and Conor Taney saw time on the mound and all but Taney pitched less than an inning. Minot’s pitching staff surrendered 15 hits and walked 12.
“We tried a lot of different combinations, but we just couldn’t throw many strikes tonight,” Minot coach Todd Larson said. “That’s the key. They put up some big base hits in some situations and we didn’t get those big base hits early in the game.”
Despite scoring 10 runs, the Vistas stranded 16 runners on base, leaving them loaded in the first, second and fourth innings.
“We left bases loaded three of those first four innings,” Todd Larson said. “As much as we didn’t want to dwell on that, it did hurt our chances.”
The Vistas threatened to make a game of it following Grand Forks’ 10-run inning. Minot responded with six runs in the bottom of the fifth to pull within 14-9, but that was as close as it got. The Royals plated four in the sixth to grab an 18-10 lead.
“They are resilient,” Grand Forks coach Nick Chine said of Minot. “They weren’t going to rack their bats. They’ve proven to me for 20 years because of their leadership they will not quit. There wasn’t any quit in them today as much as they were out of pitching.”
Minot’s matchup with Grand Forks wouldn’t have taken place had it not been for its comeback victory over Post 400 earlier in the day.
The Vistas were down to their final strike before Jake Magnuson erased a three-run deficit with one swing. Facing a 3-2 count with two outs and the bases loaded, Magnuson singled to right field, clearing the bases and tying the game. He advanced to second on a throw to the plate. Magnuson entered the at-bat 1-for-8 with four walks in the tournament.
“It’s kind of the thing you think about when it’s not game time bottom of the ninth, full count, all that,” Magnuson said. “My mentality was that I had to battle. When you get a good pitch you either have to work with it and hit it or foul it off. That’s what it really came down to for the whole game. We just battled it worked out for us in the end.”
Said Todd Larson: “He’s been a team leader for us all summer long and it couldn’t have happened to a better kid. He just battled and sometimes good guys are rewarded.”
Magnuson’s three-run single ended Erik Engel’s day on the mound after 172 pitches. Post 400 brought in Conner Ryan to face Chandler Jacob with the winning run on second. Jacob laced a line drive that deflected off shortstop Andrew Myer’s glove and trickled a few feet into the outfield. Larson waved Magnuson home from third and Myer’s throw was well off-target to keep Minot’s season alive and bring Post 400’s to an end.
“As long as we have a strike left we have a chance,” Todd Larson said. “They believed. It was nothing fancy. We’re grinders. We fought hard.”
Post 400 jumped out to a 2-0 lead after two innings, taking advantage of Minot’s inability to find the strike zone. Minot starter Grant Larson walked in the game’s first run and a sacrifice fly gave Post 400 a two-run lead.
The Vistas found their offense in the third. Lampert led off the inning with a single to right field and Grant Larson launched his second home run in as many games to tie it at 2. Two batters later, Dalton Cooper delivered a solo shot to right-center to put Minot in front 3-2.
Post 400 responded in the fourth, plating four runs and chasing Larson three batters into the frame. Larson allowed a leadoff single to Adam Sufficool and walked the next two to load the bases before Todd Larson made the switch to Dalton Cooper.
Cooper pitched the 4 2/3 innings, allowing one run on three hits and striking out three.
The Vistas finished the season 28-24.
“We got as much out of the kids as we could,” Todd Larson said. “We’re so proud of what they did this week. They’re tough kids. Those kids really fought hard. It exceeded our expectations coming into this tournament.”
Mike Kraft covers the Minot Vistas and general assignments. Follow him on Twitter @MKraft24_MDN.