JAMESTOWN Had it been a traditional seven-inning regular-season contest, the Minot Vistas would be sitting pretty in the top half of the bracket following Wednesday's Class AA American Legion baseball state tournament game against West Fargo.
But at the state tournament, nine innings are the norm and, as a result, Minot finds itself on the bottom portion of the bracket following a 9-7 loss to the Patriots at Jack Brown Stadium.
West Fargo scored five unanswered runs over the final two innings three in the eighth to take its first lead of the game and will play Bismarck today at 5 p.m. The Vistas play Mandan at 11 a.m. in a loser-out contest.
West Fargo's Ben Bruenjes slides safely into third base ahead of the tag of Minot third baseman Brady Lampert during the Class AA American Legion baseball state tournament on Wednesday at Jack Brown Stadium in Jamestown.
"We had a lot of energy and we felt really good early," Minot starting pitcher Chandler Jacob said. "I wouldn't say we were cruising, but we had a comfortable lead. As you can tell from the scoreboard, the last three innings we didn't put up any runs and they put up five. That was the difference."
The Vistas led 4-0 after two innings and 7-4 after six before the Patriots rallied in the seventh and eighth. Minot committed two errors in the seventh and West Fargo capitalized with two runs to get within 7-6. Devin Wagenman brought in the first run with an RBI groundout to short and Camran Bonnema plated the second with a double to center.
Jacob went seven innings for the Vistas, allowing six runs on seven hits and walked two. He left with a one-run lead, but the bullpen couldn't hold it.
"Chandler was pretty good for seven innings," Minot coach Todd Larson said. "He battled. He didn't have his best control, but he battled for seven innings. We just didn't win innings eight and nine."
Grant Larson surrendered the lead without allowing a hit to the first four batters he faced. He plunked Ben Bruenjes to open the eighth and walked Jake Telander in between a sacrifice bunt by Mike Glanville. Bruenjes scored on a wild pitch and the Patriots took the lead on a suicide squeeze by Marcus Wohl. West Fargo added another run on Chase Gooding's triple down the left-field line.
"We preach that nine-inning games are a lot different than seven-inning games because you're never really out of it and you never really have a game in the bag," West Fargo coach Bill Ibach said. "They believed in themselves."
It didn't end the way they would have liked, but Minot couldn't have asked for a much better start. RBI doubles by Brady Lampert and Larson off West Fargo starter Ben Strahm staked the Vistas out to a 2-0 lead after a half-inning.
Minot doubled its lead in the second without recording a hit. The Vistas drew three walks and were hit twice in the frame. Lampert drew a bases-loaded walk and Larson was hit on the next at-bat.
The Vistas recorded just one run on four hits over the final seven innings.
"Unfortunately we didn't hit the ball," Todd Larson said. "We had six hits in nine innings. You're not going to win many games with six hits. We talked about getting eight runs and having a chance to win and that almost panned out. We got to seven runs.
"We had some opportunities earlier in the game to score some runs and we didn't pick up those runners and that came back to bite us in the end."
The Vistas turn to Demitry Zafra this morning to keep their season alive. Zafra is 2-4 on the year with a 3.80 ERA.
Mike Kraft covers the Minot Vistas and general assignments. Follow him on Twitter @MKraft24_MDN.