MINOT - In their only meeting of the regular season, the Dickinson Roughriders trailed the Minot Vistas 11-0 after three innings of game one.
The visitors earned a run in the top of the fourth, but with the 10-run rule in effect, they were three outs from dropping the opener in the Magic City.
Suddenly, the momentum shifted, or as legendary radio broadcaster Rod Kleinjan explained during his call over the KDIX airwaves, “Just when you think you’ve seen everything, sometimes you see some more.”
Bringing 16 batters to the plate, not only did Dickinson keep the game alive, it roared back with 12 runs in the top of the fifth to take a 13-11 lead. The Roughriders added two more runs in the sixth en route to a 15-12 victory on Tuesday, June 11.
Game two was a pitching duel between Kobe Krenz and Alex Schimke. After the two arms threw to a stalemate, the nightcap went into extra innings. In the eighth, the Vistas scored a run to capture a 3-2 triumph from Corbett Field.
“The first game was wild, that comeback was incredible,” Dickinson head coach Tyler Frenzel said. “These kids can hit, and I like to let them hit, and they showed me today that they can hit. That was a phenomenal comeback by our guys. … I was proud of our guys for that, nobody gave up. We were down 11-1 and they just kept fighting.”
Logan Bentz and Carson Weiler started the fateful fifth inning with back-to-back walks. Then, Cody Maier delivered an RBI single to make it an 11-2 ballgame. Sacrifice flies from Troy Berg and Krenz closed the gap to 11-4 before Jaren Hugelen connected a clutch, two-run single that scored Aiden Haich and Nathaniel Jilek. After suffering an ankle injury during the winter, Hugelen stepped up with a base hit during his first plate appearance of the season.
“It was great to get him back in the mix and get a hit to keep the rally going,” Frenzel said. “He came up in a big spot and I told him to stay ready. If somebody came up in a big spot, I might pinch-hit and put him in. So, he was ready.”
With the bases loaded, Minot nearly escaped further damage when Weiler struck out swinging against reliever Kyler Stenberg, but the ball got away from catcher Brock Nesheim. That allowed Weiler to reach and the Roughriders to trim the deficit to 11-7.
Next, Maier again stepped to the plate with a huge RBI chance, of which he made the most of, crushing a game-tying grand slam. Three batters later, Jilek gave Dickinson the lead with a two-run RBI triple, scoring Berg and Haich.
Maier was focused at the plate in spite of a difficult performance on the mound. Highlighted by a bases-clearing triple from Calvin Watkins, the home team went up 6-0 in the bottom of the first. Two innings later, the Vistas got five runs to go up 11-0.
With all of Minot’s runs being earned, Maier hit four batters while allowing seven hits and seven walks in 4 ⅔ innings. Even with his struggles, Maier earned the victory on the bump after Berg recorded the final seven outs to pick up the save.
“It just shows how resilient he is. He doesn’t get down on himself and he knows he can make up for things with his bat because he is a great hitter for us,” Frenzel said of Maier. “He struggled with his command right away and that got us in a hole, but like I said, these kids kept fighting. They hit, they can swing it.”
Down 2-0 in game two, the Roughriders and their offense came up big in the top of the fifth. Maier got his team on the board with an RBI triple that scored Tristen Brunk. One batter later, Maier was driven in on a Berg sacrifice fly, tying the game at two.
That was all the offense Dickinson could muster against Schimke, who tossed seven innings and fanned 10. Despite getting one less out, Krenz did his counterpart one better, striking out 11 batters while only relinquishing five hits and three walks.
“Kobe threw great. It was the performance we needed, we’re a little short on pitching right now,” Frenzel said. “He did a phenomenal job of keeping them off-balance tonight. He mixed in his off-speed with his fastballs, and I thought he threw really well.”
Over the final three innings, Dickinson had at least one runner in scoring position but could not escape with the go-ahead tally. After pitching the top of the eighth, Nesheim stepped to the plate in the bottom of the frame with a bases loaded and delivered a game-winning RBI single through the left side of the infield.