Double trouble: Gjerde and Wardner pitch Dickinson to sweep over Legacy
Sometimes, being fortunate is just as important as being good.
During the first game of a doubleheader against Bismarck Legacy, the Dickinson High boys baseball team were both. Taking advantage a number of Sabers mishaps while getting solid starting pitching from junior Isaac Gjerde, the Midgets went on to capture a 6-1 victory on Friday, May 3.
Game two came down to a pitching duel between Dickinson senior Morgan Wardner and Legacy freshman Isaac Pegors. With each pitcher shutting down the opposition, the home team used small ball to capture a 2-1 win in the nightcap from the Dakota Community Bank & Trust Ballpark.
With the two-game sweep, the Midgets improve their overall record to 11-5 and are the only team in the West Region with an undefeated mark in conference play.
"The wins and losses, they will take care of themselves. We're just concentrating on progressing and getting better," Dickinson head coach Pete Dobitz said. "I know we are 18 games or whatever we are into the season, and 10 conference (games), but we are still progressing. I saw a lot of good things tonight on the mental approach and the attitude approach, tonight. Instead of getting down on ourselves when someone had an error or things didn't go quite right, we buckled down, made things happen and took care of business."
In the opener, Dickinson jumped out to a 2-0 lead after RBI groundouts from sophomore Landon Aman during the second and third innings. Bismarck Legacy got one run back in the top of the fourth on a groundout from freshman infielder Isaac Pegors, scoring senior catcher Paxton Miller from third. Later in the frame, the Sabers would load the bases with one out, forcing Gjerde to bear down on the mound.
The right hander worked his way out of trouble, as senior infielder Jaden Austin popped up to the pitcher and freshman outfielder Jackson Klipfel grounded into a fielder's choice. Gjerde had traffic on the base paths through much of his outing, but every time, the junior escaped.
Bismarck Legacy again loaded the bases with one down in the top of the seventh, but Gjerde got both sophomore infielder Jack Johnson and senior outfielder Kadin Sullivan to fly out to right field to finish off his complete game. He allowed one unearned run on five hits and seven walks to get the victory.
"I just wanted to throw strikes and let my team make plays behind me," Gjerde said.
Wardner led off the bottom of the fourth with a sharp single on the first pitch of his at-bat. After being pushed to third following back-to-back groundouts, Wardner scored to give the Midgets a 3-1 cushion when Sabers sophomore Ben Patton committed an error on a throw that would've ended the frame. Two batters later, senior first baseman Cody Maier made it 4-1 when his RBI single pushed home Troy Berg.
The opener took approximately two hours to complete. However, game two was played at a much swifter pace thanks to the arms on the bump.
Pegors was particular powerful and deceptive with his pitches, recording eight strikeouts.The freshman tossed 72 pitches through five innings, relinquishing two hits and a walk.
Offensively, five Sabers reached base during the first two frames of the nightcap. From there, Wardner took control, retiring 11 consecutive hitters until a Miller base hit broke the streak in the top of the sixth. Pegors was the next batter up and grounded into a 6-4-3 double play to end the inning.
"Honestly, I was struggling in the first two (innings) and my coach just said, 'throw strikes,'" Wardner said. "So I just started throwing strikes and they weren't hitting the ball very well, and my team was making plays. I just continued throwing strikes and let my team do all the work."
Freshman catcher Logan Bentz was hit by a pitch from sophomore receiver Cru Walker to open the bottom of the sixth. Berg followed with a double, setting the stage for junior infielder Kobe Krenz with no outs and runners on second and third.
On the second pitch of his at-bat, Krenz dropped a perfect bunt just a couple of feet inside the third-base line. With the squeeze play on, Bentz raced home for the game's first run as Krenz reached safely. Two batters later, the Midgets successful ran the squeeze again, as senior outfielder Justin Berger drove in Berg from third.
"We pride ourselves on the fact that everybody in the lineup can bunt. You can be a three-hitter or a four-hitter, you are going to be asked to bunt," Dobitz said. "Those are the kinds of things coaches in the WDA know. When you have that in your back pocket, it puts pressure on defenses."
Bismarck Legacy did not go down quietly, as it put runners on the corners to open the seventh, prompting a mound visit. The meeting seemed to calm Wardner down, as the senior right-hander fanned the next two batters.
While the Sabers were able to get a run to make it 2-1, and had the game-tying run at second, Wardner finished off his complete game by forcing freshman outfielder Jackson Klipfel to ground out to short.
"He said, 'Don't worry about the guy on third. Just try to get a double play right here,' since we're up two and that one run didn't count," said Wardner, who allowed five hits and three walks while fanning four.
Dickinson 6, Bismarck Legacy 1
BL 000 100 0 — 1 5 1
D 011 201 x — 6 8 3
BL: Talon Tschider (6.0) and Paxton Miller. D: Issac Gjerde (7.0) and Logan Bentz.
W—Gjerde. L—Tschider. HR—None.
Highlights: BL: Ben Patten 2-3; Miller 1-3, BB, 2B, R; Isaac Pegors 0-2, 2 BB, RBI. D: Gjerde 7 IP, 5 H, 7 BB, R (0 ER), 2 K, 1-2, BB, Troy Berg 0-3, 3 R; Joey Pavek, 2-4, 3B, RBI, R.
Dickinson 2, Bismarck Legacy 1
BL 000 000 100 — 0 0 0
D 000 002 x00 — 0 0 0
BL: Isaac Pegors (5.0), Cru Walker (1.0) and Miles Stiefel D: Morgan Wardner (7.0) and Logan Bentz
W—Wardner. L—Walker. HR—None.
Highlights: BL: Pegors 5 IP, 2 H, BB, 0 R, 8 K; Kadin Sullivan 2-3; Ben Patten 1-3, 2B, R. D: Wardner 7 IP, 5 H, 3 BB, ER, 4 K; Troy Berg 2-2, 2B, R, SB; Kobe Krenz 1-3, RBI, Justin Berger 1-2, BB, RBI.