Four hits on the 4th has a nice ring to it.
Matt Guenther and the Bismarck Governors had an explosive day at the plate on Wednesday, going off for 18 runs on 18 hits in a Fourth of July victory over Mandan at Memorial Ballpark.
The Govs' 18-2 victory finished off a holiday sweep between the crosstown rivals. Bismarck won Tuesday's game 4-0. It also spoiled the Chiefs' final home game of the season. A $2.5 million renovation, including replacing the grass surface with artificial turf, begins next week.
"I struggled (Tuesday). I definitely wanted to come with a better mindset and be better today," said Guenther after going 4-for-5 with three runs and an RBI. "Everyone in our lineup is capable of doing damage. Today it seemed like it was contagious. We started out pretty well and it just kept going."
Ian McDonald and Guenther, who both had strong freshman seasons in the spring for Bismarck State College, make a daunting middle of the order for the Govs.
"It feels great honestly to play with these guys again this summer," Guenther said. "We definitely learned a lot playing against that level of competition and we're trying to carry that over into the summer."
The Govs scored in bunches on Wednesday, hanging five on the board in the first, four in the third, two in the fourth and sixth in the fifth. Eight of nine starters had at least one hit and one RBI as they won their fifth straight to improve to 15-8.
"I think the biggest thing today was concentration-wise the guys continued to put together a lot of good bats throughout the whole game," Bismarck coach Mike Skytland said. "Sometimes when you get out to an early lead it's easy to go through the motions and give away at bats. That didn't really happen today."
The game got off to a shaky start for the home team and went down from there.
Chiefs’ starting pitcher Noah Gerhardt induced leadoff man Dawson Weikum to pop up near the mound, but Gerhardt couldn’t squeeze it and the Govs made it hurt.
The next batter, Connor Hanson, followed with a walk putting two on for McDonald, who laced a double into right-center field. Guenther and Canaan Fagerland followed with singles and just like that it was 4-0. A fifth run came across before Mandan recorded its first out.
"We definitely put ourselves behind the 8-ball right from the start," Mandan coach Jake Kincaid said. "You're going to have days where you're not at your best, but you still have to find ways to be competitive, put your nose to the grindstone and put forth your best effort."
Weikum delivered a two-run single, scoring Jalen Ziegler and Ben Weaver to make it 8-0 in the top of the third. With the bases loaded, Ian McDonald walked, forcing home Treyton Mattern with the fourth run of the inning and ninth of the game.
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The Govs batted around in the third and fifth innings.
Ziegler racked up three hits, one a double, and two RBI. Mattern collected a pair of knocks, including a two-bagger leading off the seventh.
"We're starting to do a pretty good job of consistently getting pitches we can do something with. We're not going after a lot of bad balls right now," Skytland said. "I think our lineup can be pretty tough to get through when we're all on the same page and having good at bats."
The avalanche of offense came in support of pitcher Cade Feeney, who typically needs very little anyway. The hard-throwing junior-to-be was perfect through 5 1/3 innings before the Chiefs finally broke through.
"Our pitching coach Kevin Walsh came in the dugout after he warmed up and said, 'Cade seems to have a little extra today,'" Skytland said. "With (Cade), that's a little scary. He has great stuff. Obviously that was another great outing by him today."
Feeney allowed two runs on two hits with eight strikeouts.
Connor Seefeld broke up the perfect came with one out in the sixth. The next batter, Ian Longtin, was hit by a pitch putting two on for Evan Arenz. The Chiefs' leadoff man stroked a double into right-center field to bring home Seefeld. Easton Andresen was up next and flied out to left to score Longtin.
The Chiefs have wins over Fargo Post 2 and Grand Forks this season, but are 0-3 against the Govs.
"We do have very good things inside of us and we've played really well at times," Kincaid said. "That's what makes days like this so disappointing."
Both teams get some down time before returning to action next week. The Govs host Williston on Tuesday, July 10, while the Chiefs travel to Williston to face the Keybirds on Wednesday, July 11.
Guenther said anytime at the ballpark is a good time.
"Our team chemistry is at about the highest level possible," he said. "We just have a lot of fun playing together and we want to make it last as long as possible."