MINOT, N.D. - Even after a lengthy battle, Kyler Stenberg and company still had a little magic left in them.
West Region No. 4-seeded Minot had to dig deep in its opening-round game of the North Dakota Class A state baseball tournament against East Region No. 1-seeded West Fargo Sheyenne, as the Magicians struggled to shake the pesky Mustangs.
Alex Schimke was the driving force for the Magi in the early going. The senior stole home in the top of the third inning to give Minot a 1-0 lead, and he made it a 3-0 contest in the fourth with an RBI double to left center.
But the Mustangs caught fire in the fifth. Sheyenne senior Caden Jastram connected on a pitch from Schimke for an RBi triple to make it a 3-1 ballgame, and Carter Dodd tied the score a few at-bats later with a single that brought in two runs.
Tied 4-4 in the bottom of the seventh inning, the Mustangs had a chance to end it with the bases loaded and one out.
Kyler Stenberg, who was now the mound, had other plans. The senior bailed the Magi out, delivering a strikeout and forcing a pop fly to send the game into extra innings.
With the bases loaded and one out in the top of the eighth inning, none other than Stenberg stepped up to the plate. The senior saw a pitch he liked, pulled the trigger, and sent a shot into the outfield for an RBI single to give Minot a 5-4 edge.
“In my high school career, that’s one of the top moments for sure,” Stenberg said. “It was awesome, and it just gave us reassurance to be ahead again.”
Minot added another run off a Sheyenne error, and Stenberg kept the Mustangs off the board in the bottom of the frame to secure the 6-4 victory.
Sophomore Chase Burke, Schimke and junior Derek Nygaard each recorded an RBI and a run in the win. Stenberg finished with one RBI in a game where his impact wasn’t done justice by the stats.
“Kyler (Stenberg) is a competitor,” said Pete Stenberg, who is the MHS head coach and Kyler’s father. “He wants those opportunities, and he’s always going to give it his all.”
Sheyenne falls to a consolation semifinals game against Dickinson today at 2 p.m., while the Magi advance to a state semifinals showdown against West Fargo today at 4:30 p.m. with a spot in the championship up for grabs.