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Grand Forks Red River's Jordan Lunski slides safely into home under the tag of Grand Forks Central catcher Kaleb Binstock in the fifth inning at Kraft Field. Photo by Eric Hylden/Grand Forks Herald

BOYS BASEBALL: Red River edges Central 4-3

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The Grand Forks Red River High School junior missed four straight baseball games due to other commitments. But he stepped back into the Roughrider lineup Monday and had a pair of hits, driving in the game-winning run as Red River edged Grand Forks Central 4-3 at Kraft Field.

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“Not seeing live pitching for awhile, it can be tough,’’ Leach said. “But it wasn’t too bad. Remembering the signs was the big thing.’’

Leach bounced an infield hit over the pitcher’s mound and went on to score in a two-run fifth inning, giving Red River a 3-1 lead.

His big hit came in the sixth. Central tied the score in the top of the inning, bunching together three hits, the big one being Noah Cieklinski’s line-drive single to center to drive in two.

In the bottom of the inning, Brady Regimbal drew a leadoff walk. Pinch runner Jace Braathen was sacrificed to second, then Leach lined a single to right to drive home the game-winner. It was his first RBI of the season.

“You get a feeling when you see kids in the batting cage,’’ Red River coach Mark Varriano said. “(Leach) had a good round in the cage today. And he’s normally a good hitter. He’s doing a nice job of adjusting to varsity pitching.’’

Leach got the clutch hit at the end, but it was Sam Bye who was the Riders’ big run producer.

Central scored first when Rakeen Wright reached on a one-out infield single in the third and eventually was driven home by Cole Kirchoffner. Bye drove in the tying run in the bottom of the inning with a ground out, then he broke the tie by grounding a two-run single into right field in the fifth.

“Sam struggled when we had him in the leadoff spot,’’ Varriano said. “He’s more comfortable lower in the lineup. He’s done a good job of putting the ball in play.’’

Central threatened in the seventh inning, with two runners on and only one out. But relief pitcher Ryan Richardson worked out of the jam, getting a pair of groundouts to end the game.

“Our bats got better as the game went on,’’ Central coach Kyle Beckstead said. “I’m happy with the way we put the ball in play and forced (Red River’s) defense to make plays. We just didn’t get the clutch hit at the end.’’

Colin Hennessy threw the first six innings, striking out nine, to get the win. Zach Walz took the loss, throwing a complete game while allowing five hits. 

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