Sure, it took the Bismarck Reps awhile to get rolling, but they made the wait worthwhile for coach Troy Olson.
The Reps put five runs on the Memorial Ballpark scoreboard in the fourth inning and seven in the seventh en route to a 18-6 victory over the Mandan A's Monday evening.
Bismarck was playing its Class A West Division American Legion baseball opener. The Reps stand 3-1 overall. Mandan dipped to 1-3 in divisional play and 2-4 overall.
Mandan took a 4-2 lead after three innings in the first game. The getaway mirrored the slow starts of Bismarck pitcher Ben Patton and second baseman Jack Johnson.
But once those two got on track they had a lot to say about the first game's outcome.
Patton surrendered four runs, three earned, in the first three innings, but then retired the final 12 men he faced. When he turned the game over to reliever Jordan Potter for the final inning, he had surrendered five hits, walked one, struck out six and was charged with three earned runs.
Patton said he turned things around by switching tactics rather than making mechanical adjustments.
"I started trusting my offspeed (pitches) more and came back to my fastball later in the count," Patton said. "Starting off with my offspeed worked much better."
Jackson, batting second in the Reps order, lined into a double play in his first at-bat. Then he turned things around, punishing A's pitching for a triple, two singles and a walk. He scored two runs and knocked in three.
"It finally felt good to get a couple of hits," said Johnson, who played first base for Legacy this spring. "During the high school season I didn't hit the way I wanted to. It felt good to come out here and get a couple of hard-hit balls."
Johnson said the Reps weren't focused when the game began.
"At the start of the game we weren't ready to play. We settled down and settled in and started to play our game," he noted.
Johnson, like Patton, will be a junior at Legacy in the fall.
Down 4-2 going into the top of the fourth inning, the Reps batted around, to forge a 7-4 lead. They led the rest of the way.
Most of the fourth-inning damage was done with two out. Jordan Porter forced the first run home when Stetson Kuntz issued a bases-loaded walk. Then shortstop Lucas Burgum muffed Troy Kuball's pop fly down the left field line, a bases-loaded miscue that resulted in three unearned runs. Johnson completed the rally, tripling home Kuball.
For the game, Mandan was charged with five errors, resulting in eight unearned runs.
Eleven Reps went to the plate in the game-clinching seventh inning. Johnson, Patton and Ian Funk rapped RBI singles amid the spree and Gage Dolajak followed with a run-scoring double. Bismarck banged out seven hits off reliever Drew Gerhardt during the rally.
Both teams return to action today with 5:30 p.m. doubleheaders. The Reps take on the Bismarck Senators at Haaland Field and the A's play host to Garrison at 5:30.