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Hanson's 6 RBI helps state-leading Williston beat Roughriders

Press Photo by Dustin Monke Williston Keybirds first baseman Jeff Beckman, right, steals second as Dickinson second baseman Aaron Berg attempts to catch the ball thrown from the catcher while shortstop Sean Kelly, left, backs up the play. To the far right is umpire Todd Fisher. The Keybirds won the first game of the scheduled doubleheader 13-2.

Alex Hanson isn't going to let a little back strain hold him down.

The Williston standout had three hits and drove in six runs to lead the smoking hot Keybirds to a 13-2 victory over the Dickinson Roughriders in the first game of a scheduled statewide American Legion baseball doubleheader Friday night at Southside Municipal Ballpark.

The second game was suspended in the third inning with Williston ahead 7-0. They'll restart the game started if needed to help determine the state standings.

"Offensively it felt fine," said Hanson, who was 3-for-3 on five plate appearances. "If I get six RBIs out of it, I can't complain too much I guess."

Hanson scored runners on four of his five plate appearances, including a two-run single that punctuated Williston's five-run second inning and a two-run double a five-run seventh that sealed the Keybirds' victory.

He also had a RBI single in the fourth and a sacrifice fly to right that scored a run in the sixth.

Williston coach Chip Devlin pulled Hanson from shortstop moments prior to the game and moved him to designated hitter.

"It hurts more (for him) bending over and fielding than hitting, so that's all we're letting him do right now," Devlin said. "We're nursing him through it."

It was the regular-season finale for the Roughriders, who haven't won at home this season and fell to 11-19 overall and 6-11 in the state standings. They will play in the double-elimination Class A state tournament beginning Tuesday at Kraft Field in Grand Forks.

Dickinson hosts the Central Plains Regional Tournament beginning Aug. 4 and is guaranteed at least two games in that.

"We're focused on us getting better," Roughriders coach Andy Emard said. "Once we get into state, then it's all or nothing."

While the Roughriders were solid defensively despite being swept in a doubleheader against Minot on Thursday, they fell into bad habits against the Keybirds (32-7 overall, 13-2 statewide), committing four errors which led to two runs.

Those runs only accentuated the Keybirds' offensive output.

Williston quickly squashed Dickinson's 2-0 lead in the first inning with a pair of back-to-back RBI singles from Jeff Beckman and Jacob Brokaw in the second. Hanson's two-run base hit and an error on a check throw to third base allowed Casey Axtman to score, giving Williston a 5-2 lead.

After a two-run sixth, Williston made a Dickinson comeback almost impossible, plating five more runs in the seventh.

Evan Conlin sparked the late barrage with a two-run home run to left field. Hanson added his final two RBI and Jordan Nelson's single to center plated Hanson to cap the Keybirds' scoring.

"You've just got to stop the bleeding when it happens, forget about it and go bat," said Dickinson center fielder Brett Braunagel, who had a pair of singles. "If you make an errors, don't let it carry over to your batting."

Dickinson pitcher Scott Gordon took the loss, going four innings before being relieved by Brodie Candrian.

They combined to walk six batters and were were no match for Keybirds right-hander Conner Long, who went the distance and gave up seven hits and struck out five without a walk.

Grant Dvorak scored a run on a sacrifice fly in the first and Taylor Thiel, who was 2-for-3, added an RBI single to left to give Dickinson a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first.

That was all the offense the Roughriders could muster though.

"Today, pitching and defense wasn't good," Emard said. "We were a little bit better at the plate, but we've got to be more productive with everything that we do.

Their guy, for the most part, threw strikes. We just didn't get hits when we needed and we gave too many extra outs and too many extra bases."

The Keybirds wrap up their regular season tonight at Bismarck with the No. 1 seed in the state tournament on the line. If Williston sweeps Bismarck, it would likely not return to Dickinson to play the remainder of the suspended game.

"This is when you want to really turn it on and the boys are really starting to turn it on," Devlin said. "Things are going really well."

Williston 050 102 5 -- 13 14 3

Dickinson 200 000 0 -- 2 7 4

Conner Long and Jacob Brokaw. Scott Gordon, Brodie Candrian (5) and Brady Dutchak. W-Long. L-Gordon. HR-W, Evan Conlin.

Highlights: W, Austin Grundstad 1-for-2, 2 runs; Casey Axtman 2-for-3, 3 runs; Alex Hanson 3-for-3, 2B, 6 RBI, run; C.J. Vinger 1-for-4, RBI; Jordan Nelson 2-for-3, 2B, RBI, run; Brokaw 2-for-4, RBI, 2 runs; Jeff Beckman 1-for-3, RBI, run; Conlin, HR, 2B, 2 RBI, 2 runs; Long CG, 5 K, 0 BB, 7 H, 1 ER. D, Brett Braunagel 2-for-4; Jordan Tescher 2-for-4, run; Grant Dvorak 1-for-1, RBI; Taylor Thiel 2-for-3, RBI.

Dustin Monke

Monke came to The Dickinson Press in July 2006 as the newspaper's sports editor and was hired as its managing editor in March 2013. During his tenure at The Press, Monke has won multiple awards for sports reporting, feature reporting, column writing, page design and photography. He was a key part of The Press winning the North Dakota Newspaper Association's General Excellence and Sweepstakes awards in 2009 and 2012, and oversaw The Press' Sweepstakes and General Excellence wins in 2014, as well as its national first-place honors for Community Leadership in the Inland Daily Press Association and contributed to the first-place Inland award for Investigative Reporting. As the newspaper's editor, he writes an occasional Sunday column, is a member of The Press' Editorial Board, contributes feature stories and breaking news, designs pages, and oversees the day-to-day operations of the newsroom and editorial staff. In his free time, he enjoys watching sports and action movies, exercises whenever his schedule allows, and spends every minute he can with his wife and son.

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