Comets keep Panthers winless
ROLETTE – It sure didn’t look like a season-opener for Northern Lights in a District 5 baseball game against visiting Rugby on Monday.
The Comets made solid contact throughout the game and played sharp in the field to deal Rugby its fifth straight loss on the young season. NL won 5-3 on a windy afternoon at Curtis Rime Field.
The Panthers (0-5 overall, 0-2 district) played one of their better games so far and tied the Comets at 3-3 on an RBI single by sophomore Evan Burckhard in the top of the fifth inning. NL answered in the bottom half with the winning run on a two-run single by sophomore Taylor Scott.
“I was swinging at whatever I could,” Scott said. “I made contact and I knew it was sailing pretty good. It feels good and it’s always nice to start out with a win. We didn’t know how we’d play coming in, but we can compete and know that now.”
Burckhard was the losing pitcher in relief of starter Eli Luna. NL junior T.J. Martin earned the win in relief and sophomore Karson Schoening picked up the save in an inning of work with two strikeouts.
The Panthers scored first when junior Eric Hooker smacked a double up the right-field line to bring in Luna from second base. Luna led off and reached on a catcher’s interference.
Luna struck out two batters in the first and NL starter Jalen Pfeifer struck out four in his first two innings on the mound.
RHS took a 2-0 lead in the second when junior Bennie Mygland, who was hit by a pitch, scampered home on a wild pitch.
“It’s coming around we’re just not quite getting there,” RHS coach Kendall Schieve said. “We made solid contact, but what’s killing us is not making plays when we need to.”
The Comets tied the score in the bottom of the second on a sacrifice fly by Pfeifer following an RBI-single from No. 9 hitter freshman Carson Wilkes. Wilkes’ hit dropped into shallow right between three RHS players giving chase. NL took the lead in the third inning on a single by sophomore Jake Loing to drive in senior Weston Schoening.
“I’m very pleased with the outcome,” NL coach Seth Engelstad said. “Our kids played extremely well considering it was our first game.”
Rugby saw encouraging signs from its pitching staff. Luna gave up five hits in 3 ? innings and struck out five batters, but walked four. Burckhard entered in the fourth inning with two runners on and one out. He gave up a walk to load the bases, but struck out Martin and got Karson Schoening to ground out to strand three runners.
“Hats off to both our pitchers,” Schieve said. “They had to do more work than they should’ve. (Burckhard) is a gamer. It seems when the chips get down he relaxes and does what he needs to.”
The defensive play of the afternoon came in the fourth inning when NL turned a 6-4-3 double play on a grounder from RHS sophomore Ryan Michels.
Thursday’s game against Dunseith was postponed and a pair of games in Carrington for Friday were canceled. The team is set to play today at 11:30 a.m. against Dakota Prairie and 4 p.m. against Midkota. Both games will be played in New Rockford.
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