Three up, three down-that's how Park River started the first two innings Thursday. Having the side retired in order in two straight innings to start a game is a rare occurrence for the American Legion baseball team.
"It doesn't usually happen,'' Pirates player Adam Swanson said. "I'm not sure if it's happened before this year.
"But we were hitting the ball hard. We felt they'd eventually start falling for us.''
The streak of batters retired to start the game reached seven. But then the Pirates went on a scoring binge. It was three runs in the third inning and six more in the fourth en route to a 10-1 win over Casselton in the second round of the Class A state tournament at Kraft Field.
The outburst started in the third when Charlie Thompson drew a one-out walk and No. 9 hitter Jacob Erovick drove him home with a triple to the fence in left-center field-the first of his three hits-to tie the score 1-1. After Will Zimmerman walked and stole second, Swanson grounded a single to right to drive in two runs.
Eleven Pirates went to the plate in the fourth, with Jackson Hankey's 2-run single the biggest of the team's six hits in the inning.
"The bottom of the lineup made things happen. The rest of us fed off that,'' Swanson said.
Park River coach Brady Laxdal said Casselton pitcher Mike Ueland did a good job of keeping Pirates hitters off balance in the early going.
"But you can't get nervous,'' Laxdal said. "It's a long game.
"Jacob putting the ball in the gap helped get us started and Adam putting us ahead was a spark. Those hits got the dominoes falling for us.''
Casselton had a 1-0 lead after Ueland led off the second with a triple and scored on Dom Spooner's ground out. But the Haymakers managed only three hits the rest of the way.
Ueland was tough on Pirates batters when his control was sharp in the early going.
"When we dictated the count, we dictated play,'' Casselton coach Tyler Schmidt said. "But we started falling behind in the count. They were sitting on the fastball and we got punched in the mouth.''