On a picture perfect night for baseball, Mankato West had a picture perfect start to their crosstown rivalry game with Mankato East at Wolverton Field.
The Scarlets scored twice in the first inning and then four more times in the second while southpaw hurler Devin Ries retired the first eight batters he faced in an 11-4 Big Nine Conference victory over the Cougars.
Junior catcher Conor Wollenzien delivered the game’s first big hit for West, driving home two runs with a one-out double in the first.
West started the top of the second with five straight singles, all to left field off East starter Nick Brink, and four of those base runners came across to score. Junior center fielder Steven Nessler drove in a pair with the fourth single in the string.
“We’ve been doing a good job of hitting the ball up the middle, getting the barrel on the ball, staying back and reacting,” said Nessler who’s leading West in batting this season.
While West was busy scoring runs, Devin Ries was mowing down the Cougars. East’s first base runner reached with two outs in the third inning on an error and gave up his first hit on the next batter on an infield hit by Sean Allan.
Ries went 4 1/3 innings, giving up four runs (two earned), on two hits while striking out four to get the win.
“He didn’t pitch as well in his first two outings as he did tonight,” West coach Ethan Anderson said. “It was good to see him get things going early on.”
West scored single runs in the third and fourth before East put up a crooked number in the bottom of the fifth. Brink hit a deep shot to left center for a two-run double to score both Allan and Ryan Carlsten as East trailed 8-4.