Mandan’s Larks had a pretty good game Thursday, leading Bismarck to a 4-3 Northwoods League win over Willmar and a sweep of the two-game series.
Catcher Trever Leingang of Mandan drove in two runs and tagged out pinch-runner Myles Smith at home on a bang-bang relay to end the game.
The play made a winner of reliever Parker Harm, also from Mandan, who went one inning in relief and benefitted from the Larks’ three-run sixth inning.
Harm gave up two hits, struck out one and walked one.
“He looked a lot better,” Larks manager Sean Repay said of Harm. “He’s been shaky of late but he’s been nothing but positive through it. He’s held his head high and battled. That was such a positive outing for him.”
Harm allowed one run as the Stingers stretched their lead to 3-1 in the sixth. But the Larks came back in their half of the inning to take the lead.
Cullen Smith walked, went to second on Noah Sadler’s single and third on walk. He scored on Mason Pierzchalski’s walk.
Leingang then singled to right, driving in Sadler and Newt Johnson, who also had walked.
“I was just trying to get a pitch away that I could slap into right field and I got enough wood on it to find the right-field line,” Leingang said.
Trenton Stoltz and Jeff Lindgren pitched three innings of three-hit relief. But the game came down to a play at the plate in the ninth inning.
With two outs, Rob Emery popped up to second and Spencer Gillund dropped the ball. Smith came on to run.
Nolan Bumstead followed with a ringing double down the left-field line.
Wyatt Ulrich went into the corner for the ball and threw a perfect strike to shortstop Luke Waldek in short left. Waldek threw a strike to home and Leingang applied the tag.
“Wyatt made a hell of a throw to Luke and he made a nice relay to me and I slapped a tag on him and that was the game,” Leingang said.
It was the perfect way to even the Larks’ record at 5-5.
“It’s rare that you get ll three of those things, even at the big league level,” Repay said. “Those guys executed it today.”
After each team scored in the first, the game settled into a pitchers’ duel.
Willmar starter Hayden Petrovick gave up a single to Ulrich leading off the game and Ulrich came around to score with the help of two wild pitches. Petrovick had four wild pitches in 4 2/3 innings but allowed only one hit.
Bismarck starter Frank Greco walked Quincy McAfee to lead off the game. Marcus Still followed with a two-run homer.
Greco left after five innings trailing 2-1. He gave up six hits, struck out four and walked two.
The Larks loaded the bases against reliever Stone Kelly in the sixth and Willmar brought in Kale Latorre to face Pierzchalski with one out. Latorre walked the North Dakota State product to force in Cullen Smith with the tying run.
Leingang then drove in two runs with a single to right to give Bismarck a 4-3 lead.
Kelly took the loss for Willmar, as it was his run that scored when Leingang doubled off Latorre.
Bumstead was 3-for-4 for Willmar and Tyler Reichenborn had two hits.
The Larks hit the road for eight straight games.