PREP BASEBALL: Blue Devils still learning while winning

Apr. 11—OAKWOOD — Success is great but improvement is still the desired outcome in early April.

That's why Bismarck-Henning/Rossville-Alvin coach Mark Dodd took a few extra minutes with his team after a 7-5 victory over Oakwood in a Vermilion Valley Conference baseball game at Oakwood City Park.

"They are probably a little confused right now," Dodd admitted. "As to why they got a butt chewing after win a conference game against a good team like Oakwood."

So, why did the veteran coach feel it was necessary to emphasize their miscues on Tuesday?

"There are some things that they have been able to let slide and still win games. I'm not that type of coach," he said. "We need to get back to grinding out at-bats and having a good approach at the plate. We were in there trying to be pull hitters, again, and that's not us.

"We've had all of our success early this season by letting the ball get deep and taking it to the opposite field. Apparently, they have forgotten that and now everyone wants to be a home run hitter and we really looked silly for most of the day."

And what did senior shortstop Enrique Rangel think of the stern response from his coach?

"As a team, we could have played a little tougher. Our mindset wasn't there always," he said. "It's a good win against a really good team, but we are used to winning. This is about doing the right thing all of the time. We just didn't have that at the end of the game."

That's not to say that Bismarck-Henning/Rossville-Alvin (12-5 overall, 3-0 in the VVC) didn't have some successful moments on Tuesday.

The Blue Devils opened the game with a pair of two-out run-scoring hits from Micah Stanford and Rangel to give them a lead they would never relinquish.

"There are some highlights, but too many really bad at-bats," Dodd said.

After opening up a 4-0 lead, Bis-Henn/Ross-Al saw that advantage cut in half on a two-out, two-run double to right by senior catch Bryson Marcinko.

And just when it seemed like Oakwood (5-7 overall, 1-1 in the VVC) had the momentum, Rangel lines a triple to right-center, scoring Stanford to make it 5-2. Anderson Thomas would follow with a single and the Blue Devils had regained its four-run lead.

"I think we got a little complacent. We had a decent lead and some people starting thinking about themselves and their stats a little too much," Rangel said. "We got away from being a team and playing together.

"I knew that I needed to produce for my team in that situation and the best way I could do that was driving the ball to the opposite field. I knew with Micah's speed he was going to score."

Oakwood coach Ryan McFarland noted that Stanford reached base on one of four walks by losing pitcher Chase Harrison.

"You can't walk a leadoff hitter," he said. "Walks, errors and hit-batsmen always find a way to score."

The Comets would score three times in the sixth to pull within 6-5, but the Blue Devils added an insurance run in the seventh and Cruz Dubois got the final four outs to pick up the save, while junior Anderson Thomas was credited with the win.

"Anderson did a great job of battling on the mound. That was, by far, his best performance," said Dodd as Thomas went 5.2 innings. "When he started to get out of the strike zone, he collected himself and fixed it."

Bis-Henn/Ross-Al needed that type of performance from Anderson, after a hard-fought extra-inning win over Armstrong-Potomac, 2-1 in eight innings, on Monday and another pivotal conference contest on Friday with Westville.

"Three conference games in a week will tax your pitching staff," Dodd said. "We've had to maneuver really, really carefully. Andy gave us a lift going deep today and Cruz did a nice job of getting those final outs."

Oakwood with six new starters from last year's regional championship team is starting to make progress according to McFarland.

"We've changed out batting order quite a few times this year, just moving different guys around and different guys in and out of the order," he said. "They are figuring it out. We only had four strikeouts, so that shows we've cut down our strikeout rate.

"But, Bismarck did a better job with two outs and two strikes than we did. They competed and found a way to put the ball in the gap. We just couldn't get off the field with two outs."

At Oakwood City Park Bismarck-Henning/Rossville-Alvin 7, Oakwood 5

BHRA 211 020 1 — 7 11 1

Oakwood 000 203 0 — 5 9 0

WP — Anderson Thomas. LP — Chase Harrison. Save — Cruz Dubois. Two or more hits — BHRA: Enrique Rangel 3, Thomas, Micah Stanford. Oakwood: Harrison, Derek Drews, Carsen Dudley. 2B — BHRA: Karson Stevenson. Oakwood: Brody Taflinger, Bryson Marcinko. 3B — BHRA: Stanford, Rangel. RBIs — BHRA: Rangel 2, Dubois, Stanford, Thomas, Stevenson, Jordan Johnson. Oakwood: Marcinko 2, Drews, Taflinger.

Records — Bismarck-Henning/Rossville-Alvin 12-5 overall, 3-0 in the Vermilion Valley Conference. Oakwood 5-7 overall, 1-1 in the VVC.