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Finding his groove: Huschka fans 9 batters as Dickinson tops Minot before rare rain out

Press Photo by Royal McGregor Dickinson starting pitcher Alex Huschka, right, throws against Minot during the first game of an American Legion doubleheader on Monday at Southside Municipal Ballpark and Astoria Field. Huschka pitched five innings, allowed one run and struck out nine as the Roughriders defeated the Vistas 3-1. The second game was postponed due to inclement weather.

Dickinson starting pitcher Alex Huschka was rolling on the mound.

But unfortunately for Huschka there was a thunderstorm rolling in from the west.

Huschka withstood the first 28-minute weather delay, but the Dickinson Roughriders American Legion couldn’t prevent the next delay, which ended the opening game and postponed the nightcap on Monday at the Southside Municipal Ballpark and Astoria Field.

The Roughriders won the opening game 3-1 in five innings. The game was called after an hour delay, which included rain, pea-sized hail, thunder and lightning.

“I felt like I had a majority of pitches working for strikes and it was big to have the off speed there,” said Huschka, who went five innings, allowed one run on three hits and struck out nine.

In the last three seasons, the Roughriders have only had one other game called early due to inclement weather. It happened last year when Dickinson was forced to end a game early against Mandan.

The five-inning start from Huschka was his best of the season. The right-handed starter struck out the side twice — in the first and fifth innings.

On the season, Huschka entered the game with a 0-1 record with two saves, 6.682 earned run average and five strikeouts.

“That first start (on June 7 against West Fargo) was me just getting back in the groove,” he said. “Hopefully, I found it now.”

Dickinson head coach Cory Hansen said the team has been working on getting ahead in the count and putting batters away early.

“Our new goal this year has been to get more 1-2-3 innings and turn more double plays when they arise,” Hansen said. “We haven’t got the double plays down yet, but we are getting ahead of the hitters more. We keeping more guys active.”

Cole Anderson scored the Roughriders’ first run on a passed ball. Dickinson struck for two more runs in the bottom of the fourth inning when Mark Erickson hit a two-run single.

In the first 12 games of the season, Dickinson holds 10-2 record including winning four straight.

The Roughriders went 3-0 during pool play of the Joe Parmer Red River Diamond Classic in Fargo. Dickinson was scheduled to play Bismarck in the championship game on Sunday, but it was rained out.

“They have been playing pretty solid,” Dickinson head coach Cory Hansen said. “I’m happy with the nice start. We’ll see if we can keep it going.”

Huschka said the team is pleased with where it’s at right now, but not content.

“We definitely happy, but we can improve and we are going to,” he said. “It’s just going to take some time. Give us a month and we are going to find it.”

Dickinson continues its season traveling for a nine-inning game against Mandan at 6 p.m. today.

“Playing in Mandan is always tough,” Hansen said. “We get to find out when it takes to get a win in a nine-inning game. We can’t expect our starting pitcher to throw all nine innings. We are trying to keep guys around 90 to 110 (pitches). I’d like to keep them under 90. That’s kind of a goal, but when you play a nine-inning game that gets kind of tricky.”

Minot 010 00 — 1 3 0

Dickinson 010 2x — 3 4 0

Hunter Duttenhefer and Braden Lach. Alex Huschka and Andrew Heckaman.

W–Huschka. L–Duttenhefer. HR–None.

Highlights: M, Dalton Cooper 2 for 2, 2B, RBI; Grant Larson 1 for 2, 2B, run. D, Lucas Jones 2 for 3, 2B; Mark Erickson 1 for 2, 2 RBI; Michael McChesney 1 for 2, run; Dylan Wallner run; Cole Anderson run.