Cougars unable to make up early deficit against Hazen

Mason Kessel on a 5-3 putout.
Josiah C. Cuellar / The Dickinson Press

Belfield, N.D. — Effort goes a long way, but a homer goes just a bit further.

Heart River Cougars settled into their game too little too late, while the Hazen Bison came out swinging. The two Region 8 teams played a doubleheader in Belfield on Thursday, starting with a regional counter that resulted in a 9-3 finish, followed by an 8-6 non-conference showing. The Cougars were on the losing side of both games.

The Bison (3-2, 7-3) got onto the scoreboard early in both outings, taking winning leads. Heart River (2-4, 3-8) was forced to take a defensive approach, which was exacerbated by their sluggish performance in the batter’s box. Head coach Kurt Silbernagel recognized the effort and the development of his Cougars, but gave all the credit to the hard hitting Hazen team.

Cameron Grimm at bat.
Josiah C. Cuellar / The Dickinson Press

“[Hazen] can hit the ball. Luke [Obrigewitsch] threw strikes, we made some errors again, but Hazen strung hits together. They are a good hitting team, they are well coached and they finished their swings,” Silbernagel said. “We are starting to make contact, but we have kids that are still a little bit timid. They hit defensively on all three strikes, instead of when they are on their second strike. Those first two strikes you have to hit on your own terms and we are just not there yet.”

Fielding error made by Heart River.
Josiah C. Cuellar / The Dickinson Press

The region counter match saw Hazen take a 7-1 lead by the end of the second inning. Robert Froelich and Tyson Wick each hit doubles in the second inning, Froelich coming in as the leadoff hitter and Wick sending him home.
Wick also held the mound and though he allowed 10 hits, earning two of the three runs, he did well fielding chopped balls and catching lineouts. Luke Obrigewitsch started on the hill for Heart River, surrendering six runs on nine hits, including a leadoff home run at the top of the six. Brayden Kastrow relieved Obrigewitsch to close out the final inning and after bases were loaded from two field errors and a walk, Hazen scored their final run off of a 4-1 count.


Luke Obrigewitsch throwing a pitch.
Josiah C. Cuellar / The Dickinson Press

The Cougars fought for a rally at the bottom of the seventh, a Baltimore chop over third baseman put a runner on the base paths and two runners would cross home plate off of fielder choices. Big hitter, junior Jordan Koppinger, who opened the scoring for Heart River with a stand up double at the bottom of the first, sending Evan Walter home, was on deck before the Bison collected their final putout to end the game.

“Rally starts with a good hit, so I am trying to spark those,” Koppinger said. “Honestly, I don't think the score represents what we did. I feel like we rallied back in the seventh inning, but we just fell short. I tried to rally us back, but we just couldn't catch our feet.”

The second game was much closer, with both sides' defense having trouble issuing walks for runs.

Heart River can't overcome early deficit against Hazen on Thursday, May. 4.
Josiah C. Cuellar / The Dickinson Press

The game had the same pattern of the first, with Hazen taking a comfortable lead to start the game. In the first inning the Bison took a 4-0 lead, but the Cougars began to inch their way back with a three-run inning at the bottom of the second.

Hazen earned their last three runs at the top of the third, while Heart River continued to chip away until the final inning.

A big credit to the Heart River defense was their ability to earn multi-1,2,3 innings, but with team’s limited to only so many pitchest before having to sit players, combined with Heart River’s short supply of pitchers, defense has had issues that went beyond effort or talent. However, Silbernagel won’t settle for excuses and demands more from his young squad, both on defense and offense moving forward.

“After the third inning, we settled down, but we still had some miscues, some balls that are routine plays and we have to make them and granted we are a bunch of sophomores for the most part, but those are still routine plays that we should have had down," Silbernagel said. "[Koppinger] hits the ball hard, but he is one of the few kids that is using his hand-eye coordination and he picks his pitch. You have to be patient, but you also have to jump on strikes when they are offered. He has been hitting well all year, he has been on fire, so the rest of us have to get the bats going and catch up a little bit.”

Jordan Jung makes contact with the ball for a single.
Josiah C. Cuellar / The Dickinson Press

Hazen 9, Heart River 3
HZNB 340 001 1 — 9 12 3
HRTR 100 000 2 — 3 10 5


HRTR: Kessel 1-4, RBI,TB; Walter 2-4, 2TB, CS; Koppinger 3-3, RBI, 2B, 5TB; Honeyman 1-3, TB; Kastrow 1-3, TB; Stevens 1-3, TB; Buckman 1-2, TB, SB.
HZNB: Haack 3-4, 2RBI, HR, 3B, 8TB; Wick 1-4, 3RBI, 2B, 2TB, 3SB; Krause 1-5, TB; Lesmann 1-4, TB, SB; Holen 2-4, RBI, 2TB; Grimm 1-4, TB; Brown 1-4, TB; Froelich 2-4, 3TB, SB.

HRTR: Obrigewitsch: 6IP, 9H, 8R, 6ER, BB, 2K; Kastrow 1IP, 3H, 1R, 1ER, 2BB.
HZNB: Wick (WP) IP, H, R, ER, BB, K

Kurt Silbernagel and his coaching staff talking to their team after their home loss against Hazen on Thursday, May 4.
Josiah C. Cuellar / The Dickinson Press

Hazen 8, Heart River 6
HZNB 413 00X X — 8 12 5
HRTR 031 02X X — 6 6 2

HRTR: Kessel 1-4, TB; Obrigewitsch 1-3, TB, SB; Koppinger 1-3, 3B, 3TB, SB; Lefor 1-1, TB; Honeyman 1-1, TB; Jung 1-2, 2RBI, TB.
HZNB: Haack 3-4, 3TB; Lesmann 3-4, 2B, 4TB; Beyer 2-3, RBI, 2TB.

HRTR: Koppinger 2IP, 8H, 5R, 5ER, 1BB; Zacher 2IP, 3H, 3R, 3BB, 3K; Stevens 1IP, 1H,1BB, 1K.
Beyer 2.2IP, 6H, 4R, 2ER,2BB; Haack 2.1IP, 2R, 2BB, 2K

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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