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Bismarck coach Jaden Scott wouldn’t call Saturday’s 13-15 Babe Ruth World Series game between Bismarck and Ohio Valley champion Russell County, Ky., a must-win game. But Bismarck catcher Miles Stiefel would.

“It was definitely a must-win game because were 1-1 and trying to get back in a grove and stay alive,” said Stiefel, who was Bismarck’s player of the game for his work behind the plate and on the mound in a 7-3 win. “It’s a high-pressure situation.”

Bismarck improved to 2-1 in pool play with one game remaining, while the loss dropped Russell County to 1-2. The top three teams in the two five-team pools will advance to the bracketed tournament beginning Monday.

Stiefel did it all for Bismarck, which took control in a four-run fifth inning after Russell County had scored three times to tie the game.

Stiefel played error-free ball behind the plate, went 2-for-3 and scored twice at the plate and pitched two scoreless innings.

Caiden Schwehr started for Bismarck and pitched four innings and was replaced by Stiefel.

“There’s definitely kids that wouldn’t feel comfortable having to do that,” Scott said. “I knew he would keep his calm up there and play well under pressure.”

Stiefel worked through the fifth and sixth innings.

Bismarck took a 1-0 lead in the third inning but it could have been a lot worse for Russell County. A walk, a hit batter and a perfect bunt loaded the bases with no outs. Russell County brought its infielders in and Jackson Klipfel flared a single to where the shortstop would have been playing to score Nic Devine.

Kentucky pitcher Evan Hammond, who took the loss, struck out Carson Motschenbacher and third-baseman Maxon Gosser made a nice pick-up and throw home to cut off a run. Isaac Pegors popped out to second to end the threat. Hammond worked four innings. He gave up seven hits and five earned runs while striking out two.

Bismarck added a pair of runs in the fourth. Noah Riedinger led off with a double down the left-field line and went to third on Stiefel’s bunt single. Lucas Schell singled to drive in Riedinger. After a balk moved the runners up, Luke Welk grounded out and Stiefel scored for a 3-0 lead.

Russell County evened things up in the fourth inning.

Nick Lawson started things with a single and on an error. Isaac Roy’s second hit of the game loaded the bases Schwehr walked Camden Carpenter to force in a run. It was the sixth run walked in by Bismarck pitchers in the tournament.

Aidan Antle hit into a fielder’s choice to drive in a run and Evan Hammond beat out an infield error that plated Roy, who later added a double to his total.

Bismarck had an immediate answer in the fifth. Hammond hit Motschenbacher to open the frame and Carter Klipfel followed with a triple down the left-field line. That chased Hammond, who was replaced by Aaron. Klipfel then scored on a wild pitch.

Aaron didn’t get any help either as two errors and a single behind him loaded the bases before Devine lifted a sacrifice fly to center. Stiefel ended the inning with a steal of home on a botched pick-off for a 7-3 lead.

Stiefel worked himself into trouble in the sixth but got Roy to fly out with the bases loaded to end his stint on the mound.

“It’s kind of nice being the catcher, throwing the ball back because you’re already warmed up. It just takes a couple of pitches in the pen,” Stiefel said. “You just want to get out there and throw strikes and let your defense work.”

It will need to work once more today.

“I wouldn’t say this was a must-win, but this puts us in a good spot going into (Sunday). It takes some pressure off,” Scott said. “We’ve competed for three games and we’re in a really good spot right now.”

Bismarck finishes pool play today at 1 p.m. against Southwest Region champion Eagle Pass, Texas.

Albany 10, Norwalk 5

Albany, Minn., erupted for five runs in the top half of the seventh inning and held on to defeat Norwalk, Conn., 10-5 Saturday at Bismarck’s Municipal Ballpark during pool play of the 13-15 Babe Ruth World Series.

The score was tied at 5-5 until Albany’s Logan Harren doubled home Peyton Krumrie with two out in the seventh. Harren later came in to score on a bases-loaded walk, and Albany went on to plate three more runs on a bases-clearing error.

Norwalk had runners on first and third with two out in the bottom of the seventh, but couldn’t score.

Krumrie also tripled home a pair of runs in the top of the third, and Brandon Holm had an RBI double in Albany’s two-run fourth.

Jaden Eehevarria doubled, singled and drove in a run for Norwalk. Jeremy Cooke and Phil Nora each added two singles.

MLB China 9, Eagle Pass 4

MLB China finally cracked the win column at the 13-15 Babe Ruth World Series, beating Southwest Region champ Eagle Pass, Texas, 9-4 in a pool play game on Saturday.

Miller Guo had two hits and drove in two runs as China improved to 1-2 with one round-robin game left. Larry Wang tossed five innings of six-hit ball to pick up the win. He struck out two and walked three.

Jarod Romero went 2.2 innings and took the loss for Eagle Pass, which lost for the first time in three games. Romero gave up just two earned runs. Aaron Trevizo gave up five runs in the six-run fifth inning.

X Feng, Kimi Ding and Steve Zhao also had two hits apiece for China, which belted out 13 hits. Feng and Zhao scored two runs apiece.

Alan Jimenez was 2-for-3 with a triple and two runs batted in hitting in the leadoff slot for Eagle Pass. He was the only Eagle Pass player with multiple hits. Romero had a triple.

Russell County 3, MLB China 2

Nathan Lawson pitched 6.1 innings and had two hits to lead Ohio Valley Region champion Russell County, Ky., to a 3-2 win over MLB China on Friday night at the 13-15 Babe Ruth World Series.

Lawson drove in the game’s first run with a single in the three-run first inning off MLB China starter Jerry Xiao, who walked five batters and gave up a hit before he was replaced by Alan Du with one out in the inning.

Xiao walked in two other runs. Du got out of the jam and worked a perfect second to give his team time to recover.

China scored twice in the third on Hank Feng’s single. Feng water later picked off second to end the inning.

Kimi Ding had two hits for MLB China, which dropped to 0-2 in pool play.

Lawson scored Russell County’s eventual winning run. He scattered six hits and struck out five.

Russell County threatened to break it open several times but left the bases loaded in three innings. Du struck out five and walked six.

Maxon Gosser faced the last to MLB China batters after Lawson reached his pitch limit and earned a save.

Ohio Valley improved 1-1 in the tourney.

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