Red River's Feller strikes out 11 in 5-1 win over Central
Feller totaled 121 pitches on the day and kept the Knights hitless through five innings.
GRAND FORKS — Grand Forks Red River's Brett Feller threw 121 pitches and held Grand Forks Central hitless through five innings, but the Roughriders' pitcher could have thrown another complete game if it was needed of him.
“I’ve been throwing for a while now, so I’m used to it. My arm feels good right now,” Feller said following Tuesday’s 5-1 Roughrider' win at Kraft Field.
Through his 11 strikeouts and 27 batters faced he flirted with a no-hitter but came up short after allowing a single to Jack Jahnke in the bottom of the sixth. In the seventh, he would give up a single and RBI double, but remained unphased to secure the complete game victory.
Each at-bat Feller seemed to be in total control, rarely falling behind in the count.
“Always getting ahead allows me to work in those offspeed pitches and those late fastballs where I can place them wherever I want. It gets batters chasing,” said Feller.
That command and confidence have stuck out to Red River head coach Mark Varriano this year.
“He probably throws too many strikes,” he said. “There are pitchers who are effectively wild, which he is not. I’d like to see him stay away from the heart of the plate a little more, but his deuce was working pretty (well) tonight.”
Throwing “too many strikes” could come back to haunt pitchers as they face the same batters for the third or fourth time around the order, but early on it can make for impressive moments.
In the second inning, Feller struck out the side on 12 pitches, only throwing one ball to Dillon Kuntz –the first batter he faced.
“I had a walk in the first inning and that’s not always fun to have, but I started to figure things out in that second inning and it definitely helped the game go a lot better,” Feller said.
The second inning is also when the offense came alive for Red River. Dylan Desmarais brought in the first two runs of the game with a line drive into center field. Then in the sixth inning, Carter Byron matched the Desmarais two-RBI double with one of his own, scoring Jaden Rustad and Mason Stroh, pushing the lead to 5-0.
“It’s not bad so far,” Varriano said of the team’s offensive performance to start the year. “We’re putting the ball in play. We could be more disciplined and have a better approach in some at-bats, but that’s to be expected right away. I’m happy with where we are at.”
While the weather has been unkind, the bats have been strong for the Roughriders to open the year. Now 4-0 to start the season, Red River put up a combined 14 runs in a doubleheader against Minot and then 12 against Williston before meetings the Knights for their first EDC game.
During the month-long break between their third and fourth game of the year, Varriano kept practices short and ran with the days that were dry enough to go outside. Now with that extra prep time, the Roughriders are hoping to live up to the preseason EDC poll that tabbed them fourth in the conference.
“We’ve talked about it since day one, I want these kids to play for the guy next to him. Give their best effort for the guy next to him, so they are not leaving something on the field. It’s not about where you start but where you finish. We’ve started off pretty good and now it's time to keep on going,” he said.
On the other side of the diamond, Central falls to 2-4 on the year after the loss. The Knights, who were lucky enough to play five games in the month of April, were placed eighth in the EDC poll.
Despite the losing record, Jahnke, Wyatt Wockenfuss and Chance Colgrove are all hitting above .400 with a combined 14 RBI in those six games.
Next for the Knights will be West Fargo Thursday at Kraft Field, Red River will head on the road to face Fargo South before hosting East Grand Forks at Kraft Field Monday.
Grand Forks Red River 5,
Grand Forks Central 1
RR 020 102 0 – 5 10 2
GFC 000 000 1 – 1 3 0
RR – Mason Stroh 4-4; Dylan Desmarais 1-2, 2 RBI; Carter Byron 1-4, 2 RBI; Noah Burger 1-2, RBI; Jaden Rustad 3-4; Brett Feller (W) 7 IP, 3 H, 3 BB, 1 ER, 11 SO
GFC – Sam Strandell 1-3, RBI; Jack Jahnke 1-1, 2 BB; Wyatt Wockenfuss 1-3; Aidan Lee (L) 4 IP, 5 H, 3 ER, 1 BB