With six straight victories and eight wins in its last nine games, the Mandan High School baseball team pretty well qualifies as a team on a roll.
Yet right fielder and leadoff man Ian Longtin said nothing magical or supernatural has happened to the Braves team that stumbled off to a 2-5 start.
"We started to realize with the shortened season we've got to get going -- now," Longtin, a thoroughly seasoned senior, said in the wake of Thursday's doubleheader sweep of Dickinson.
"We've played really well," Longtin added. "We had young guys who needed to step up and seniors who needed to take control, and we've done a good job of that."
In Thursday's 10-4 and 6-4 wins over the visiting Midgets, the Braves played fundamentally sound baseball. They surrendered three unearned runs via four errors, but the Mandan pitchers made Dickinson work for its runs, walking only one batter.
"We've been playing solid baseball all the way around," Longtin said.
Senior right-hander Easton Miller earned credit for Mandan's victory in the first game, going the 86-pitch distance to improve to 1-2. He scattered six hits, including Jared Hugelen's fourth-inning solo home run, a long poke over the 345-mark in left field.
Mandan gave Miller plenty of early offensive support, scoring six runs in the first two innings.
Quinn Halstengard singled in a run in a two-run first inning that included two Dickinson wild pitches, an error and a hit batter.
Longtin singled in two runs and Jackson Zittleman singled home one in a four-run second. Miller and Cole Schmidt swatted RBI singles as the Braves piled on four more runs in the fourth.
Mandan opened a 6-0 lead in the second game. Halstengard singled home a run in the first inning, Jaxon Duttenhefer rapped an RBI double in a three run-third, and Miller's run-scoring single was the key blow in a two-run fifth.
Junior right-hander Connor Seefeld pitched five one-hit shutout innings in the second game before surrendering the ball after 73 pitches. Dickinson scored all four of its runs in the final two innings off relievers Parker Zander and Cole Schmidt.
Longtin, who already has three varsity American Legion seasons and two high school baseball seasons behind him, was a thorn in Dickinson's side all day. In the two games, batting leadoff, he went 5-for-7, walked twice, scored four runs and knocked in two.
All that occurred while he was trying to acclimate himself to batting at the top of the order. That spot was previously occupied by Evan Arenz, who was lost to a season-ending injury.
"We had Evan Arenz go out (due to a meniscus tear in one knee) and I wanted to keep it rolling, because Evan had been doing a great job at the top of the order getting the guys going," Longtin said.
Longtin had been batting at the bottom of the order prior to Arenz's injury.
"Id been getting on base. .. The coach gave me a shot, and I wanted to make the most of the opportunity," Longtin said.
Mandan, now 9-3 in West Region play and 10-6 overall, will try to extend its winning streak on Saturday when it travels to Jamestown to play a pair of regional games.