For the first time this season the Minot High School baseball team had to respond to losing and the Magicians did so in stride.
After dropping two games at Bismarck High on Friday, MHS (12-2 overall, 10-2 West Region) swept Bismarck Century on Saturday at Jack Hoeven Park.
MHS senior Hunter Oothoudt was a catalyst in game one, finishing 4-for-4 with two extra-base hits in a 10-5 win. The Magicians won game two 17-11.
Minot High School junior Wesley Johnson tags out Bismarck Century junior Andrew Bargmann on a stolen-base attempt at second in the Magicians’ second win over the Patriots on Saturday at Jack Hoeven Park.
"We weren't really happy, so we wanted to come off of that loss and come out and get the win today," Oothoudt said. "Yesterday, our bats were off a little bit and today they were on, so we have our days."
Junior pitcher Demitry Zafra picked up his fourth win of the season in game one. The righthander struck out seven batters through six innings and gave up just two runs before finding trouble to start the seventh inning.
Century (6-10, 5-5) scored two runs in the third inning, but Zafra retired the next nine batters and MHS led 10-2.
"He struggled there a little bit early on and he didn't want to come out and we weren't gonna let him out," MHS coach Pete Stenberg said. "As the game went on, he got stronger and stronger and that showed some nice maturity out of him. He needed that and came back and threw some nice strikes. His ball moves well for him."
Zafra had the assistance of great defensive play in the quick, nine-out stretch. Sophomore catcher Zach Danelson threw out a runner trying to steal second in the fourth inning and MHS turned a 5-4-3 double play in the sixth. MHS also found momentum at the plate with seven runs in the fifth inning. Two runners scored after reaching on errors, but Century coach Mike Gustavsson said pitching has been his team's biggest issue.
"Both games, we come close to getting up again and we walked the first guy in an inning," Gustavsson said. "That's the big problem we've had so far. We need guys to get on the hill and compete and throw strikes and get us back in right away, and that's kind of where we're struggling."
The Patriots mounted a seventh-inning rally and scored three runs before MHS recorded an out. With Zafra's pitch count hovering around 100 following a two-RBI double by Century sophomore Cyril Nagurski, Stenberg turned to his steady senior reliever. Caleb Fornshell struck out the next two CHS batters and got the third on a game-ending groundout.
"He's very reliable, he's a good pitcher," Zafra said. "He comes out and shuts 'em down, gets it done."
Fornshell also was called upon late in game two. Century chased off MHS junior starter Shawn Danielson in a seven-run second inning. MHS tied the game at 7-7 in the third and sophomore Grant Larson pitched three shutout innings before CHS tightened a 10-run deficit to 17-11 in the sixth.
Fornshell gave up two runs, but held Century scoreless in the seventh.
"We had better-than-OK pitching," Stenberg said. "It wasn't probably where our pitchers wanted to be, but we battled and we got out of things."
MHS junior Kolton Larson led MHS with four RBIs in game two and hit his second home run of the season. His two-run shot sailed well over the left-field fence on Hoeven's east diamond. Larson was one of three Magicians to finish with three runs in the game. Junior outfielder Chandler Jacob led MHS with four runs and batted 3-for-4 with a triple, double and an RBI.
MHS plays at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday at Bismarck St. Mary's.