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Scott Throlson (Special to The Forum), Published July 30 2010

Class A American Legion baseball: Minot’s Winkels blanks Patriots

BISMARCK – Kris Winkels got the job done on the mound. And his teammates backed him up with some clutch hits.

That combination helped propel the Minot Vistas to a 6-0 victory over the West Fargo Patriots in the second round of the North Dakota Class A American Legion baseball tournament on Thursday at Bismarck Municipal Ballpark.

Winkels went the distance on the mound, stifling the Patriots in a four-hit shutout.

“I just tip my hat to their pitcher,” West Fargo coach Bill Ibach said. “He had a really good game. He pitched the way his coach wanted him to. He threw with confidence.”

Winkels outdueled West Fargo’s Matt Strahm, who was victimized by one big inning and a handful of clutch hits by Minot. The Vistas scored five of their six runs with two out.

The Patriots, coming off an opening-round win in which they scored 10 runs on 12 hits, were limited to four hits by Winkels.

“We usually hit a little better, but if a pitcher has some ability and hits his spots, it’s tough,” Ibach said.

“He had a hard slider and he had confidence throwing it. He struck out a couple of guys on 3-2 counts with it.”

The slider was a big reason Minot coach Todd Larson called on Winkels against West Fargo.

“He was able to keep the ball on the outside part of the plate and aggressive hitting teams will swing through that,” Larson said.

Winkels walked three batters, hit one and struck out nine.

“We haven’t seen a lot of guys like that this year with that kind of command of his pitches,” Ibach said.

Strahm kept Minot in check for most of the game, but the Vistas put up three runs in the top of the fifth to grab the lead.

“We had our chances early in the game and we didn’t capitalize,” Larson said. “We knew if we could break through against a pitcher of his caliber it would take the monkey off our backs.”

Minot got on the board in the fifth on Darin Back’s RBI single. Trevor Gust added a two-out, two-strike single that brought home two runs to make it 3-0.

“The beginning of the game was a battle of attrition,” Ibach said.

“They had more runners than we did, but we kept getting out of innings. Sometimes when that happens it will come back to haunt a team. But they battled through it.”

Strahm threw 6Xc innings, allowing four runs on nine hits. He walked six and struck out seven.

“At the beginning of the game, he was a little off but he battled through it,” Ibach said. “If we had gotten him a few runs it might have been a different game because when we get him a lead he usually shuts teams down.”

West Fargo will take on Mandan today at 1 p.m. in a loser-out game.

M 000 030 102– 6 13 1

WF 000 000 000– 0 4 5

Winkels and Gust. Strahm, K. Mapes (7) and Johnson. W–Winkels. L–Strahm.