Four-run inning powers Grand Forks Red River baseball to win over Central

Apr. 24—GRAND FORKS — Griffen Haagenson was confident entering Grand Forks Red River's Wednesday rivalry tilt against Grand Forks Central.

It was evident on the mound, as the sophomore righthander struck out 10 and weathered Central's late comeback bid en route to a 7-5 win at Montgomery Field at Oxford Sports Complex Wednesday afternoon.

"It's always fun playing your old teammates, and it's really a rivalry," said Haagenson, who didn't walk a batter. "First conference win is pretty big for us, knowing that we can put the ball in play and really battle."

Entering the game, both Red River and Central had just one win on the season over Sioux Falls Christian. The Knights beat the Chargers 16-0 in four innings and Red River won 12-2 in six.

But wins in the Eastern Dakota Conference have been difficult to come by.

"A win's a win," Riders coach Mark Varriano said. "We got to clean some things up, obviously, but Griffen Haagenson threw a heck of a game. We had some timely hitting, ran the bases pretty well. We just have to learn how to win, and towards the end of the game, you have to learn how to put the pedal down."

Haagenson, who pitched a complete game, also recorded the Roughriders' first hit of the game in the second, then scored on an RBI single to right field from Adrian Gonzalez.

That jump started the Red River offense that put up four runs in the fourth inning. The Riders' seven total runs are the second-most scored by Red River this season.

Central started slow but found its offensive rhythm late in the game, scoring all five runs in the final two innings.

"I'm proud of them for not giving up and rolling over and dying," Central coach Danny Marto said. "They battle and they compete, and we just have to find a way earlier to get more balls in play, and make them earn it."

Central starting pitcher Noah Morkve allowed six runs, struck out five and walked six in three and a third innings. Marto pulled Morkve for Zach Benjamin in the fourth after Red River loaded the bases with one out in its four-run fourth inning.

Benjamin allowed one run the rest of the way and was 3-for-3 at the plate, scoring in Central's three-run sixth inning.

Benjamin was also standing at first when Braden Brevik launched a two-run home run to left field to bring the score to 7-5 in the seventh, but the comeback ended when Haagenson struck out Keegan Hensrud to end the game.

"We had one inning, we gave up a crooked number," Marto said. "If that number goes back to two, obviously it's a tie baseball game. I thought we did a good job of competing and battling and getting out of some jams. Just the one inning cost us."