RHS holds off Braves
BOTTINEAU – To at least one Rugby High School baseball player, the Panthers’ wild 20-12 win over Region 5 rival Bottineau had the feel of a state title game.
It wasn’t the cleanest display of America’s pastime, but the ups-and-downs of the wild 32-run game ran the gamut of emotion for both teams.
Both sides felt the sting of frustration from silly errors. Both teams felt the rush of huge innings at the plate. Only the Panthers felt the elation of surviving the extra-inning offensive onslaught on May 10 at Dakota College at Bottineau’s Lumberyard.
“It’s crazy,” RHS sophomore Hunter Hager said. “It kind of felt like a much bigger game than it was. Like Anders (Johnson) said, it felt like a state championship game.”
Hager was one of seven Panthers with multiple hits and one of five players on the team with multiple RBIs. Hager’s third RBI single of the afternoon drove in the tying run to notch the game at 9-9 in the sixth inning. The Panthers added three more in the frame to take a three-run lead.
The seesaw battle saw the Braves respond repeatedly to RHS, and BHS scored twice in the seventh to tie the game at 12-12 and force an extra inning.
After posting three four-run innings, Rugby responded with a demoralizing eight runs in the eighth inning before holding BHS scoreless in the bottom half.
“The guys expected to hit the ball well – Eli (Luna), Evan (Burckhard) and Hunter – are starting to hit full swing,” RHS coach Kendall Schieve said. “Guys like Bennie (Mygland), Jaedon (Haman) and Anders were making them have to get us out.”
Mygland led the team with 4 RBIs, including a two-run double in the third inning. Haman had three RBIs and drove in the winning run with a single in the eighth inning. The shot to left field was enough to bring home pinch-hitter and senior Karson DeMers, but the ball squirted through the legs of an outfielder and two more runners scored.
“You gotta credit Rugby, they hit the ball very well,” BHS coach Zach Keller said. “We made some errors. I gotta credit my guys for fighting, they stayed in the game.”
The Braves had three errors to the Panthers’ two. Bottineau trailed 8-2 following four-run innings in the third and fourth for RHS, but the Braves posted seven runs to take the lead in the bottom of the fourth.
Bottineau senior catcher Andrew Hill became the team’s third pitcher when he moved to the mound in the sixth inning after reliever Luke Amsbaugh gave up four runs. Hill got three outs to strand runners on the corners and blanked RHS in the seventh, stranding another three.
Hill’s momentum ran out in the eighth and RHS junior reliever Eli Luna, who gave up half the runs, closed the game with a strikeout to seal an early holiday-weekend gift for a rambunctious group of mothers.
RHS sweeps Dunseith
The Panthers finished the regular season with a lopsided sweep of Dunseith on Tuesday. The Panthers won 23-0 and 22-0 to earn a home Region 5 play-in game against the Dragons on Thursday.
The winner will play No. 2 seed Northern Lights at 1 p.m. Monday in Harvey.
The Panthers and Comets split their regular season meetings with RHS winning the most recent in a 10-3 final May 9.
The winner of the North Star-Bottineau play-in game will meet No. 1 seed Harvey at 11 a.m. Monday.
The tournament is a double-elimination format.
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