It's long been said that the double play is a pitcher's best friend.
Bismarck Reps pitcher Alex Krug can bear testimony to that fact today.
The Reps were clinging to a 6-4 lead in the sixth inning of the championship game in the Capital City American Legion baseball tournament. Krug had just loaded the bases by hitting three Bismarck Senators batters when Ryan Heilman stepped to the plate.
On a 1-and-2 pitch, Heilman banged a ground ball to Nick Hinsz at second base. Hinsz tagged Nate Burkhardsmier, who was on a dead run from first base, and threw to first baseman Mason Leingang, killing a promising Senator rally.
"That was a heads-up play by Nick Hinsz," Reps head coach Troy Olson said. "Heilman is really fast. ... It was good to be on the right end of that one."
That DP, the only one of the game, proved to be the pivotal play. Krug retired the Senators 1-2-3 in the top of the seventh to clinch the tournament championship for the Reps.
"(Krug) was able to throw strikes after he wiggled out of that sixth," Olson noted.
"Nick Hinsz motivated me to throw strikes," said Krug, who worked the hitters away in the seventh inning and used his curveball effectively.
"I use (the curve) sometimes, depending if it's on or off. It was off in the sixth and on in the seventh," he added.
The Rep victory did more than secure a title. It cooled off a Senators team that had won eight straight and 14 of its previous 15 games. In addition, the books between the two teams are balanced at 2-2 with the Reps taking the last two games.
"When you have two teams from one program I think they actually compete a little bit harder against each other," Olson said. "You know your buddies (on the opposing team) and you play a little harder."
Krug had a similar viewpoint.
"I like playing them. They're kids you know and you want to beat them because you know them so well," he said.
Krug came on in relief of starter Skyler Reidinger in the sixth inning. The temperature was approaching 90 degrees at game time with 55 percent humidity, so neither Reidinger nor the Senators' John Sammons was a likely candidate for a complete game.
Reidinger moved from the mound to shortstop after delivering 91 pitches in five innings and Sammons had thrown 62 pitches when he gave way to Logan Berger in the fourth inning.
Olson said he couldn't have asked any more of Reidinger.
"He's gave us 90-plus the last three or four times out," Olson noted. "I was pretty impressed with his effort."
The lead changed twice in the first three innings and the game was knotted 3-3 after four innings.
In the top of the fifth, the Senators went ahead 4-3 with an unearned run. That marker was the product of a walk to Hunter Sigette, a passed ball by Skyler Strand and a throw in the dirt at first base by shortstop Connor Weikum on Ethan Oswald's ground ball.
The Reps responded with three runs in the bottom of the inning to take the lead for good. Krug, Weikum and Cole Richey singled as the Reps plated Berger. Berger added fuel to the fire with a walk, a hit batter and three wild pitches. Richey singled home the final run after Krug scored on a passed ball and Reidinger came home on a wild pitch.
Both the Senators and Reps return to action on Tuesday, playing host to the Williston Oilers at Haaland Field. The Senators play the first game at 5:30 p.m.