LEGION BASEBALL: Binstock leads potent Grand Forks offense
Grand Forks Royals cleanup hitter Kaleb Binstock said there was a little adjustment period from the high school season to American Legion. In North Dakota, high school teams use wood bats and the legion programs swing metal. "With wood bats, I di...
Grand Forks Royals cleanup hitter Kaleb Binstock said there was a little adjustment period from the high school season to American Legion.
In North Dakota, high school teams use wood bats and the legion programs swing metal.
“With wood bats, I did more hitting the other way and up the middle,” said Binstock, who played at Grand Forks Central. “In the second half of this season, I’ve pulled the ball more.”
No matter which direction Binstock has been hitting the ball this season, it has landed safely.
The left-handed hitting first baseman and catcher leads the team with a .462 batting average, which includes 11 doubles, six triples and four home runs. Binstock’s 63 runs batted in lead the team by 24.
Binstock, who plans to play baseball at the University of Jamestown in the fall, leads the No. 3 seed Royals against No. 6 Mandan at 3 p.m. today in the first round of the state tournament in Dickinson, N.D.
Grand Forks coach Nick Chine, whose team takes a 26-11 mark into postseason play, said he saw flashes of Binstock’s ability last summer.
“He demonstrated that capability last season, but he was less consistent,” Chine said. “He would go on runs and then cool off. This year, he’s just very consistent.”
Binstock has plenty of natural ability, with a mix of speed and power. He has five stolen bases this year and his six triples lead the club.
“I think he has pretty good work ethic, and he’s coachable,” Chine said. “There’s some God-given ability there with his frame. With all of that, you have a real shot at being better than most.”
Binstock’s numbers jump out, even for a team with a stockpile of proven batters. The Royals have 10 hitters batting better than .300 and no hitter is batting under .259.
Three Grand Forks players are batting above .400. In addition to Binstock, Ben Carolin and Erik Hanson are both hitting .419.
The Royals hope the strong numbers can translate this weekend at state, a place the Grand Forks bats have gone cold the past couple of seasons.
“We have to put the ball in play effectively to go deep in the tournament,” Chine said. “We have shown the ability to put together games with 10 or more runs and 12 or more hits. We’re not talking about playing just anyone, either. We did that against in-state, upper-echelon opponents.”
The Royals have a smaller team than usual this season. Grand Forks has 12 players and Binstock says that’s been a positive.
“Everyone knows everyone on a personal level,” he said. “We’re focused, but we’re having fun. I think that’s part of the reason we’ve hit it well. We’re having fun.”