Despite a few scares, the Williston Post 37 Keybirds defeated the Minot Post 26 Vistas 7-4 Thursday, July 30, at Ardean Aafedt Stadium, in a final tune-up game for the Senior Babe Ruth State Tournament.
The state tournament begins Tuesday in Bismarck, and the Keybirds’ third win in a row was a good showing to prepare the team for what is to come, coach Shawn Egge said.
There were ups and downs for the Keybirds, but when the players needed to make plays, they did.
In particular, Williston’s pitching stepped up in big moments to help the team out of some tough moments.
Minot, after trailing by five runs since the fifth inning, threatened Williston’s comfortable 7-2 lead in the top of the eighth inning. With one out, Minot’s Calvin Watkins brought in a run on a single through the left side, making the score 7-3.
Shortly after, with the bases loaded, Minot’s Tyler Harbet reached on a fielder’s choice, bringing in another run to make the score 7-4.
Even with the runs given up and the pressure on him to keep the lead, Williston’s Kyle Mischke got out of the inning with a big momentum stopper.
“As a pitcher, it’s really tough when you start to pitch with runners on base, I mean that’s where you get out of your comfort zone,” Egge said. “To be able to work out of big innings like that, because those are innings that can definitely change the game really quick, so to be able to work out of those innings from the guys we had on the mound that we know we’re going to rely on when we get to the state tournament is really nice to see.”
Early in the game, Williston’s hitting got off to a slow start, but Egge said the hitters got a boost from Jaxson Meyer putting up zeroes against the Vistas’ hitters after the first inning.
“It really kind of opened the door for us, that’s when we kind of exploded in the few innings, put a few runs up in the group of innings, which kind of really helped seal the deal for us,” Egge said.
After putting up nothing in the first inning, and allowing two runs to the Vistas, the Keybirds rolled through the next four innings by scoring in each of them, while keeping Minot to no runs during the stretch.
Williston scored once in the second inning, finally taking the lead in the third inning by scoring two runs. The Keybirds scored four more runs over the next two innings, which gave them enough of a cushion for the victory.
The Vistas had one last effort to keep the game going in the top of the ninth inning, as they were able to get two runners on base but could not get further.
Thursday’s game could not have been a better picture of the Keybirds’ season put into one nine-inning session.
Egge said the team’s hitting started slow in the season, but got better, and he said the team started relying on pitchers and other players who stepped up. In the win over the Vistas, the hitting started slow but got better, and the pitchers stepped up in clutch moments to secure the win.
The final tune-up game for the state tournament included a bit of everything from the season, as it now comes to a close and the Keybirds ready up for one last push this summer.
Williston Herald reporter Analicia Haynes contributed to this article.