Following a pair of losses in Kindred, North Dakota, on Friday, June 7, Wahpeton was back home for a doubleheader against the West Fargo Aces. Post 20 led most of the way, but a pair of runs in the final inning gave the Aces a 5-3 win. Post 20 had runners in scoring position throughout the Monday, June 10 battle, but struggled to put together enough offense.
“We didn’t get a lot of breaks, but it comes down to where we had some chances to make some breaks that we didn’t take advantage of it,” Wahpeton coach Kelly McNary said. “We’re getting there. We’re going to keep working at it. It’s early and I see a lot of good things from these kids. We’ve just got to look for that day where we’re going to break out and hopefully it’s going to be this next game.”
Judging by how the game started, it didn’t look like the hosts were going to be limited to a trio of runs on the day. Jake Uhlich walked and Isaac Loosmore lined a double to left-center to put a pair of runners in scoring position. An error allowed Uhlich to score and Loosmore came in on a bad throw to second to catch a stealing Trenton Dufner.
“I was impressed with the way we came out and jumped on them,” McNary said. “I was thinking we were going to put a lot of runs on the board today with two right away, but we kind of sat on the lead for a while and that hurt us a bit as they nibbled away at it to grab the lead.”
Uhlich took the hill for Wahpeton and only gave up one run through the first four innings.
“Jake pitched a pretty good baseball game. He got behind a few times, which upped his pitch count a little bit,” McNary said.
Uhlich was backed up by his defense making multiple solid plays. A bulk of them came from third baseman Dawson Hofman. Along with making multiple outs throwing to first, Hofman also made a heads-up play to tag a runner to end an inning. The performance was even more impressive considering he was battling an injury on his throwing arm.
“(Hofman) gobbled well down there with something going on with his arm,” McNary said. “He played great defense down there and got the ball over to first somehow to make some plays and get some outs for us. I’m very happy with his play down at third base.”
An error to lead off the sixth put the Aces in position to take the lead with a pair of runs. Along with the mistake in the outfield, Wahp also had a tough break catching a foul ball.
“We had a ball dropped out in center that we probably could’ve caught. We just need to just be a little more aggressive on it. There’s nothing wrong with an aggressive mistake, but we kind of just sat and watched it with three guys there,” McNary said. “We had a tough break where Zach tried to make a great catch by the first-base fence, made a gallant effort, but the ball fell to the ground when he ran into the fence. The kid gets a hit and that adds another run for them.”
The lead was short-lived as Wahpeton came right back in the same inning. Manock wore a pitch to start the inning and Isaac Getz came in to pinch run. Jonah Enochson moved the runner over with a sacrifice bunt to get into scoring position with Nick Bronson coming up to bat. Despite striking out in his first two appearances, Bronson stepped into the box with confidence and drilled an RBI double to deep left.
“That was awesome. (Bronson) struggled a little bit at the plate in his first couple at-bats and he came up with a big hit,” McNary said. “That’s kind of what it’s all about. Maybe he didn’t look good the first few times he was up there, but he put it behind him and came through with a clutch hit like that. That’s what we need and we’re going to need more of those. Nick’s the start and now we’ve got to add to that.”
Uhlich and Loosmore split pitching duties in the final inning as the visitors scored their runs on an RBI double and a wild pitch, respectively.
“We had some opportunities today. A base hit here or there and we’re in that four or five run category a little sooner than later,” McNary said.
The non-counter saw Post 20 nab their first win of the year by a score of 11-1.
Next up for Wahpeton is a pair of games against Lamoure, North Dakota. The first game at 5 p.m. will feature mostly backups with both team’s main starters playing in the 7 p.m. battle.
“We’ve got to take it one game at a time. Every game’s a different game and we’re just trying to add to what we’ve done and change a few things along the way,” McNary said. “Hopefully we can turn it around and get on a roll.”