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Bismarck Governors

Mandan Chiefs third baseman Cole Schmidt, left, eyes the ball as the Bismarck Governors' Connor Weikum slides in during a game last week at Memorial Ballpark.

Condensed as it is, the Legion baseball season doesn't allow for many slip ups along the way.

With the state tournament in Grand Forks just over two weeks away, the Bismarck Governors and Mandan Chiefs are hoping to hit their stride down the stretch.

"You blink and the summer and the season is over," Chiefs coach Jake Kincaid said. "With the Class AA set up, if you're not playing well for a week or two, you can really get behind the 8-ball."

At 2-8 in the statewide standings, Mandan is eighth out of nine teams. The closing stretch isn't easy either with twin bills against Minot (July 9), Grand Forks (July 16) and West Fargo (July 22). One non-counter against the Govs also remains on July 18.

"That's what's special about Legion baseball, there are no games off, no gimmes," Kincaid said. "You can't look into the future and expect a certain game to be in the win column. There's none of that."

So far this season, both the Chiefs and Govs have gotten solid pitching, but have been up and down at the plate.

"I think we've had really consistent pitching and defense throughout the first half," Govs coach Mike Skytland said. "We've been a little inconsistent hitting, but I've been happy with the way our at bats have been coming around."

While the lineups of both teams look to find their strokes, there's plenty of pitching to lean on.

The Govs have co-aces Connor Hanson and Skyler Riedinger at the top of the rotation. Paxton Miller can beat anybody and almost every player on the roster -- Nick Hinsz and Stevie Kraljic among others -- can eat quality innings.

"With the pitchers we're throwing out there, it makes it pretty easy to coach," Skytland said. "All the guys get ahead and they're confident in their defense. They don't feel like they have to strike everybody out."

Mandan has a similar formula.

Kincaid can toss virtually everybody in uniform onto the hill and get solid results. Jake Weiand, Connor Seefeld and Noah Gerhardt top the list, with Easton Andresen, Evan Arenz and Cole Schmidt also very capable.

The Chiefs have struggled to string wins together this summer, but their fourth-place finish during the West Region high school season showed they stack up just fine.

"Sometimes it's hard to see in the midst of struggles, but we know good things are inside of us, that's what we continue to tell them," Kincaid said. "It's just a matter of having confidence and making sure everybody is pulling in the same direction."

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Reach Tribune sports editor Dave Selvig at (701) 250-8246 or david.selvig@bismarcktribune.com

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