LEGION BASEBALL: Thompson rides pitcher to beat Nelson County 5-1
LANGDON, N.D. — Skyler Carlson needed a little help, after all.
The Thompson pitcher dominated for six innings here Wednesday. Then Brandon Walsh came in to get the final three outs as Thompson beat Nelson County 5-1 in the opening round of the North Dakota Class B American Legion baseball tournament.
In Carlson’s six innings, the left-hander registered 14 of the 18 outs with strikeouts.
“When he’s on, that’s what Skyler is capable of doing,” Thompson coach Brady Schwab said. “He had velocity and was able to throw strikes. He’s had games like this before, but not with that many strikeouts. That’s a big number for six innings.”
Ten of Nelson County’s first 11 outs were on strikeouts; the one that wasn’t was catcher Ryne Dolleslager throwing out a would-be basestealer. Carlson had three strikeouts in three innings and struck out a pair in two other innings. He also assisted on another putout.
Carlson said the big strikeout total was a bit of a surprise.
“It’s a state tournament. You expect strong competition here,” said Carlson, who pitched for Lake Region State College last spring. “My curveball was working. When that’s not on, I don’t seem to pitch very well.
“I started out nervous. But I was amped up and, when I got going, I felt I was pitching pretty well.”
Carlson finished allowing four hits — three of them to start the sixth, with Jayden Grover singling in the Owls’ lone run. When Matt Miller led off the seventh by drawing the fifth walk Carlson allowed, Walsh came in and pitched out of a two-on jam to finish the win.
“We haven’t seen anyone throw that hard all year,” Nelson County coach Brent Luehring said of Carlson’s performance. “And he kept us off balance with his curve. We’ve beat hard throwers. Maybe state tournament nerves got to us. Our bats were a little slow.”
Grover also started slow. Thompson scored four runs on four hits off him in the first, with Tom Nistler, Dolleslager, Walsh and Brett Sutter-Hegg driving in runs. Grover settled down and limited Thompson to five hits and one run over the final six innings.
“We got guys on and didn’t leave them all out there today,” Schwab said. “That was an issue for us in the section tournament. But we got time hits and production from top to bottom of the lineup today.”