The Mile High Mustang
One was a home run short of the cycle.
Another had a pair of two run doubles.
The first plays for a team very much in the mix in EDC baseball.
The other plays for a team in search of it's first win, at least according to the North Dakota High School Athletics Association website.
Both were major contributors to an exciting first game of another double header.
The game started with the pitchers coming out ready to go. Between the two starters there were five strikeouts tallied in the first inning. Grand Forks Red River's Simon Murphy walked off the mound after the first with three of them. I can't speak to the frequency of true pitchers duels in ND high school baseball but if I had made a wager with anyone after the first six outs, I would have said that that's what was going to happen. It didn't play out exactly that way.
West Fargo Sheyenne starter Brady Beyl notched a quick second inning which his counterpart from GF came back out but struggled to get his second set of outs. So much so that the Mustangs went all the way through their lineup in the second alone. There was a surprising difference in Murphy's ability to locate his spots and get the calls by the umpire. He did enough to only allow four runs to score but was one mistake away from the scoreboard showing a much larger deficit for his team.
With the amount of time and the number of pitches that he threw in the second I thought there would be a quick change for the visitors but the third saw him return to the bump for all eight innings of play. Beyl for his part also got through most of the innings but eventually ceded the mound to Tyler Hanson who then was relieved by Denver Blinn. Even without the time he put in on the mound, Blinn was the story of the game.
He started off the game with a triple, followed that up with another hit & a score. He struck out four batters, got a double, a steal and scored another run. For MLB players, the term utility is undesirable but when you can do that many things, at as high of a level as he did them on Thursday evening, it was fun to watch as a neutral observer but it's got to be all that much more enjoyable for those with a rooting interest in the team and in him personally. In a word, bravo young man!
But Baseball is a team game and even with the reportedly winless record, the Roughriders were in town to compete. There main contribution came from Isaac Burger. He wasn't as multifacetedly successful but he did plenty to get his squad out of the five run hole that they were in. First with a two run double in the fifth inning then one inning later a second two run double. Hitting with guys on base. That's something that some MLBer's struggle with so to see a high schooler get it done in consecutive innings woke up the crowd and unequivocally balanced the scales.
Burger wasn't the only one to eat at the plate late in the contest. His teammate Dane Montgomery got into the two run scoring hit game with his own in the seventh inning to tie it up. Red River then had the chance to bring the comeback to completion when Daniel Pierce drew a walk and promptly stole second. Unfortunately it was a learning experience for the senior who seemed to be feeling his oats and attempted to steal third but was caught in the act. That all but sealed the eighth inning for the Riders.
The Mustangs couldn't afford to mess around and let it get to a ninth inning or Grand Forks' momentum may have rolled over them. Sheyenne succeed to close out the game which they had lead for most of the innings. The game winner came on a single by the starting pitcher, Brady Beyl, who fittingly got to close it out, albeit with the bat instead of the ball.
A great early evening of baseball between teams in different places of the season, but competing til the end. For having the walk-off shot Brady Beyl deserves a nod for player of the game. For being the main engine of their offense, Isaac Burger gets runner up recognition. But Mr. Do-It-All, Denver Blinn was clearly the best player during the eight innings and for that he gets my player of the game!