After being thrashed 9-1 and 10-0 by Dickinson in a key regional doubleheader a week ago, it seemed Mandan was at a turning point.
Would the Braves baseball team fold or fight?
It seems they have taken the latter course.
Mandan rolled over St. Mary’s 11-1 and 5-0 Thursday to sweep its penultimate regular season twin bill.
With the victory in the first game, Mandan improved to 9-4 in the region. The nonregional win in the second game gave the Braves a 12-11 overall mark.
St. Mary’s dropped to 0-13 in the region and 5-23 overall.
The two teams match up again at 1 p.m. Saturday at Memorial Ballpark with the Braves hoping to clinch second place in the region.
Alex Weiand won his third straight game in the opener against the Saints, who were playing as the home team at Memorial Ballpark.
He surrendered just one run, the result of Ben Aberle’s double and a subsequent sacrifice fly by Thomas Barry in the fourth inning.
By that time, the Braves had built a 4-0 lead. Bryce Andresen plated a run with a ground out in the second inning and Dylan Scherr followed up Trever Leingang’s double with an RBI single in the top of the fourth. Three infield errors by the Saints gave Mandan two unearned runs in the third.
Mandan removed all doubt in the fifth, scoring five times for a 9-1 advantage. Two unearned runs in the sixth ended it via the 10-run rule.
Weiand, a tall senior right-hander, held St. Mary’s to three hits, but didn’t seem at all happy with his performance.
He walked two, struck out two and hit the Saints’ Jacob Brucker twice in his five-inning stint. Forty-nine of his 76 pitches were strikes.
“I wasn’t too good tonight,” he said. “My arm was tight ... but all we needed was strikes. My arm slot wasn’t normal and I was overthinking on the mound. I should just throw the ball.”
Weiand said the Braves played well defensively behind him, part of a trend that’s developed over the last four games.
Since the debacle against Dickinson — regional losses that included five errors — Mandan has tightened up the defense. The Braves have been charged with just two miscues while winning three of four, including two regional wins.
“We actually needed those (Dickinson) games as a wakeup call,” said Weiand, Mandan’s everyday third baseman. “We realize no games are going to be given to us. We’ve got to play hard because any team can beat you on any given day.”
Mandan head coach Dewitt Mack sees things much the same way.
“What we told the guys (after the Dickinson doubleheader) is we’ve got to move forward. We had a bad day and we have to get better every day,” Mack said.
Mack credited part of the defensive improvement to the pitching staff.
“It helps when the pitchers throw strikes. ... It keeps everyone involved in the game,” he said.
Mandan’s Saturday doubleheader with St. Mary’s is the only game remaining on region’s regular season schedule.
Dickinson, 11-3, has already clinched first place.
Mandan 11, St. Mary’s 1
Mandan 012 152 — 11 7 0
St. Mary’s 000 100 — 1 3 5
Alex Weiand, Jared Walters (6) and Trever Leingang; Tyler Famias, Nick Winbauer (5), Thomas Barry (6) and Dillon Reiner, Famias (5). W — Weiand, 3-1. L — Famias, 0-3. HR — None.
Highlights: M — Santana Butler 2-for-3, double, 2 R, 2 RBIs. Leingang 1-for-1, double, 1 RBI. Dylan Scherr 1-for-2, 1 R, 1 RBI. Bryce Andresen 1-for-2, 1 R, 2 RBIs. Weiand 5 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 2 SO. Walters 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 SO. SM — Ben Aberle 1-for-3, double, 1 R. Reiner 1-for-2, double.
Mandan 5, St. Mary’s 0
Mandan 000 05 — 5 4 0
St. Mary’s 000 00 — 0 4 0
Jarad Zittleman and Richard Bendish; Jack Nathe, Alex Johnson (3), Thomas Barry (5) and Dillon Reiner. W — Zittleman, 2-1. L — Johnson, 0-1. HR — None.
Highlights: M — Parker Harm 2-for-2, 1 R, 1 RBI, 1 SB. Alex Weiand 1-for-2, triple, 1 R, 1 RBI. Zittleman 5 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 8 SO. SM — Jacob Brucker 1-for-2, double. Tyler Famias 1-for-1, double.
Records: Mandan 8-4 West Region, 13-10 overall; St. Mary’s 0-13, 5-23.