BELFIELD - In the first game of a doubleheader hosting Watford City, the Belfield-South Heart Post 144 Knights made a number of sparkling plays in the field. However, their errors in the top of the sixth inning sparked a Walleye rally, costing them their early cushion and eventually, the game.
The visitors used a six-run sixth to capture an 11-5 victory in the opener. Watford City jumped ahead early in the nightcap, as it completed the sweep with a 6-2 win in five innings on Wednesday, from the John J. Steiner American Legion Ballpark.
"It just seems like that's our Achilles heel, we just have that one inning every game. We had them beat," Post 144 head coach Kurt Silbernagel said. "We get leads and I don't know if we lose our intensity or if we lose our attention or whatever it is, we can't put together seven innings right now."
Working with a 5-2 advantage, Knights starting pitcher Preston Walter faced third basemen Carter Knutson to begin the top of the sixth. Knutson hit the ball towards third base, but Tanner Obrigewitch could not come up with the play and was charged with an error. Three batters later, in his first plate appearance, Ty Howe smashed a sharp single through the left side of the infield, scoring Knutson and cutting the deficit to 5-3.
Next, Fox Dodds reached on the home team's second error of the frame when his ground ball went under the glove of second baseman Tyler Kastrow. Catcher Judd Johnsrud, who was hit by a pitch earlier in the inning, scored to bring the visitors to within 5-4.
"I think overall, we're a solid defensive team. We just have to eliminate that hiccup of an inning that we have and it seems we're having them on a regular basis," Silbernagel said. "I know we have the talent defensively ... it's just a matter of putting it together for an entire game."
Prior to the deciding frame, Belfield-South Heart's defense was spectacular. The team flawlessly executed a 6-4-3 double play, threw out two runners trying to steal second and another attempting to snag home.
"It (builds) my confidence," Walter said. "As a pitcher, knowing that if I can throw a strike, I'll have a defense that can back me up."
Watford City centerfielder Liam Shannon appeared to tie the game when he laced a double that reached the left-field fence, but Howe was thrown out at the plate. Shannon was Walter's last batter, as the right-hander was charged with six runs, but just one was earned.
Against a new pitcher, Darien Dunn quickly fell behind 0-2 in the count to Braden Obrigewitch. The Knights reliever began to walk off the mound after believing he ended the inning with an offspeed pitch, but it was called a ball. On Obrigewitch's next delivery, Dunn put the visitors up for good with a two-run RBI ground ball single up the middle.
"It took us a while to wake up," Walleye head coach Pat Spacher said. "We've been playing everyday, we were on each other and we weren't taking a very good approach at the plate. We decided to start playing baseball around the fifth inning. ... We were able to execute offensively, and that's the biggest thing, we weren't executing and we weren't having very good at-bats. When we put together at-bats and play the way we are capable, we're a pretty good ballclub."
The boys in maroon added two more runs in the sixth and another three in the seventh.
In the bottom of the first, it was the Knights offense that was clicking. With two on and one out, first baseman Anton Krebs gave Post 144 a 2-0 lead with an RBI double, which scored Ian Silbernagel and Cauy Shypkoski, who each reached with singles. One inning later, Silbernagel expanded the advantage to 4-0 when his single scored Tyler Johnson and Tanner Obrigewitch from second and third.
Jacob Juarez enter the game in the bottom of the second when Dunn could only go 1 ⅓ innings on the bump. Juarez was terrific in relief, relinquishing an unearned run on two hits and a walk through 5 ⅔ innings.
Silbernagel was on the mound for the hosts in game two and loaded the bases before recording his first out. He allowed two runs in the first and two more in the second before exiting after throwing four frames. His counterpart, Dodds, had more success, giving up two runs on seven hits and no walks. He was also 3-for-4 at the plate, with two RBIs.
Post 144 scored each of the runs on Walleye errors, as Krebs touched home plate in the second and Silbernagel did so in the third, but Knights wouldn't get any closer.
"Our record is 3-5 now, but I'm encouraged. I really like we're we are at right now," Silbernagel said.
Watford City 10, Belfield-South Heart 5
WC 001 025 2 - 11 13 2
BSH 221 000 0 - 5 7 4
WC: Darien Dunn (1.1), Jacob Juarez (5.2) and Judd Johnsrud. BSH: Preston Walter (5.2), Braden Obrigewitch (0.1), Tarence Dillinger (1.0) and Xander Krump.
W-Juarez. L-Walter. HR-None.
Highlights: WC: Dunn 2-3, 3 RBI, R; Fox Dodds 2-4, BB, 2 RBI, 2 R; Jackson Dodds 2-4, 2B, BB, RBI, R; Juarez 5.2 IP, 2 H, BB, R (0 ER), 1-3, 2B, R. BSH: Ian Silbernagel 3-4, 2 RBI, R; Anton Krebs 1-4, 2B, 2 RBI; Cauy Shypkoski 1-3, R; Walter 8 H, 4 BB, 6 R (ER), K.
Watford City 6, Belfield-South Heart 2 (F/5)
WC 221 10 - 0 0 0
BSH 011 00 - 2 7 2
WC: Fox Dodds (5.0) and Kanyon Tschetter. BSH: Ian Silbernagel (4.0), Anton Krebs (1.0), and Preston Walter.
W-Dodds. L-Silbernagel. HR-None.
Highlights: WC: F. Dodds 3-4, 2B, 2 RBI, R, 5 IP, 7 H, 0 BB 2 R (ER); Darien Dunn 1-2, BB, RBI; Colton Daly 1-1, 2 BB. BSH: Krebs 2-2, 2B, RBI, R, IP, 0 H, 2 BB, 0 R; Silbernagel 1-3, R, 4 IP, 5 H, 6 BB, 5 R (3 ER), 5 K; Shay Olson 2-3.