Cougars close out regular season with doubleheader sweep over Washburn

Cougars pounce on the Cardinals to close out the regular season with 13 hits and six runs in their doubleheader victory

Austin Buckman returning home after scoring a run.
Josiah C. Cuellar / The Dickinson Press

BELFIELD, N.D. — Heart River Cougars finished the regular season with a three game winning streak, against some big hitters of Region 8. Up against the Washburn/Wilton/Center-Stanton Cardinals on Thursday, Heart River found balance in their offense and defense to sweep Washburn at home.

Early leads in both games were never relinquished, totaling 13 hits, which would see the Cougars win 4-3 and 2-0 in the doubleheader. Head Coach Kurt Silbernagel likes the path his young team is on and hopes to see them peak at the region tournament, just a few days away.

Evan Walter (2) looks up after launching a flyball.
Josiah C. Cuellar / The Dickinson Press

“A lot of our hitters are starting to see the ball a lot better,” Silbernagel said. “We are at least putting it in play, the next step is to start meeting where it goes somewhere when we hit. But I am happy we could get the win and maybe get some momentum going into regionals.”

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Jordan Jung tags runner coming home.
Josiah C. Cuellar / The Dickinson Press

Senior shortstop Austin Buckman knocked a leadoff home run at the bottom of the first inning and got the Cougars started, but a three-run fifth inning would provide the insurance run needed for them to survive a late rally attempt by the Cardinals. Heart River were 4-0 on the scoreboard, until the sixth inning, when Washburn began to creep up. Charles Sannes made things interesting at the top of the seventh inning, hitting a two-run homer to make it a one-run game.

Nonetheless, the Cougars would pull through. Silberngael gave proper recognition to sophomore Mason Kessel, who held the mound for all seven innings and struck out six batters.


“I was throwing mostly fastballs, trying to keep it low and get ground balls… Throwing strikes will give us a chance at regionals,” Kessel said. “[What made the difference] we had less errors and we are starting to hit the ball better.”

Conner Honeyman on the catch, with Washburn player sliding in to third.
Josiah C. Cuellar / The Dickinson Press

Game two would be a 2-0 shutout with Buckman, once again, crossing home plate to open the scoring. From his initial 4-0 walk, he would steal second, then third, advancing home on a wild pitch.

Austin Buckman keeps Washburn defense on their toes, rounding third base.
Josiah C. Cuellar / The Dickinson Press

Freshman Jordan Jung would bring in the final scoring runner off of an RBI single, on a full count.

Evan Walter and Kaden Zacher shared the hill. Walter pitched the first three innings, retiring two batters and surrendering two walks and one hit. Zacher finished the final two innings, with two walks and delivering two strikeouts.

The Cougars end the season with a 3-7 region record and 6-12 overall. They will likely begin playing the Cardinals for the opening round of the Region 8 tournament. Silbernagel does not want his team to take the win for granted and whether it is Washburn in the opposite dugout or not, they will need to keep the intensity up if they are to make a deep run into the tourney.

Kaden Zacher (1) throwing the ball to first.
Josiah C. Cuellar / The Dickinson Press

“I don't know if [Washburn] came in a bit flat because maybe some teams overlooked us, I don't know, but we just got to show up and play,” Silbernagel said. “We are more than capable, but we just haven't done it yet and today was as close to showing up as we’ve done all year and I am happy with how they played.”

Josiah C. Cuellar was born in San Angelo, Texas, a small rural community in the western part of the state known for its farming, ranching and beautiful Concho River. A Texas A&M San Antonio graduate specializing in multi-media reporting, Cuellar is an award winning photographer and reporter whose work focuses on community news and sports.
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