BISMARCK - Going into Thursday's West Region quarterfinal against No. 6 Minot, Dickinson High head coach Pete Dobitz knew his team needed an incredible pitching performance to shutdown the Magicians offense that dominated them to the tune of 12-2 and 11-1 a week earlier.
Senior Morgan Wardner got the nod and was absolutely electric. He struck out 11 batters en route to a 9-2 complete-game victory at the Sanford Sports Complex.
The No. 3 Midgets move on to face No. 2 Bismarck Century in the second semifinal on Friday.
Wardner's performance wasn't flawless, though, as he walked the first batter he faced.
"I knew, even though we were only one batter into the game, I needed to make a mound visit and tell him, you got to believe," Dickinson head coach Pete Dobitz said. "You got to believe in what you've worked on all week. You got to believe in it, and it'll come through for you."
Wardner and his battery mate, sophomore catcher Logan Bentz did everything they could to prevent the Magicians from taking off like they did in the regular season. Dobitz gave them a scouting report and they "poured over it" all week ahead of Thursday. Their hard work paid off, as Wardner limited a Minot team that averages seven runs per game, to just two runs off of five hits.
"Even though we got tromped 11-1 and 12-2 (last week), we took all those at-bats that they had and we looked at what they did, how they did it, what they were hitting, how they were hitting it, where was the ball pitched, all that stuff we analyzed it and together we came up with a pretty outstanding scouting report and gameplan," Dobitz said. "Morgan, he followed it to the tee."
At the plate, Wardner's fellow seniors Justin Berger and Cody Maier did their part. Berger went 2-for-3 with three RBIs, while Maier went 2-for-4 with two runs scored.
"Morgan did it on the mound, and Justin and Cody did it with the bats. Justin Berger, it was supposed to be a squeeze bunt, but they didn't cover it, so he got a base hit out of it. (He's) willing to do the small things to help the team. When you have seniors that are going to lead in that manner and that fashion, you can't beat that."
Also aiding the offense, freshman Troy Berg went 2-for-3 with a pair of RBIs and a run scored, while junior Kobe Krenz went 1-for-2 with three runs scored. Freshman Aiden Haich recorded two RBIs with a pair of sacrifice flies.
No. 3 Dickinson 9, No. 6 Minot 2
M 020 000 0 - 2 5 1
D 311 031 X - 9 8 0
M, Dylan Buchanan (3), Chase Burke (4) and Dylan Vigestad. D, Morgan Wardner and Logan Bentz.
W-Wardner. L-Buchanan. HR-None.
Highlights: M, Buchanan 3 IP, 3 H, 5 R, 3 BB, 2K; Burke 2 H, 4 R, BB, 3K. D, Troy Berg 2-3, 2 RBI, R; Justin Berger 2-3, 3 RBI; Kobe Krenz 1-2, 3 R; Cody Maier 2-4, 2 R; Aiden Haich, 2 RBI; Wardner 7 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 11K, 3 BB.