MANKATO — If you only had one word to describe Mankato West left-handed junior Devin Ries, it would probably be “efficient.”
The junior doesn’t blow people away with his speed or make batters bail out of the box with his curve, but he’s nearly always around the plate and has a knack for getting outs. On Wednesday he threw an 82-pitch game to lead the Scarlets to a 5-2 victory over crosstown rival Mankato East at Wolverton Field.
“I guess it was pretty typical,” Ries said of his performance. “My fastball was working OK; I just tried to throw strikes and let them hit it and let the defense take care of the rest.”
Of his 82 pitches, 54 strikes and 28 were balls. On the season he has 173 strikes against 82 balls and has walked just four batters in 18 2/3 innings.
“He’s had good control all year,” West coach Ethan Anderson said. “Coming into today he had better than a 2-to-1 strike-to-ball ratio.”
West scored first on Wednesday. Isaac Weber reached on an error to lead off the game and eventually scored on Conor Wollenzien’s line single to center.
The Scarlets went up 3-0 in the second as Weber stroked a double to left-center, Tyler Stoffel moved him up with a base hit, and Wollenzien scored him with a sacrifice fly. Josh Cook’s single to right advanced Stoffel and he scored on an infield error.
Wollenzien ended up 2 for 2 with four RBIs. The No. 3 batter was called up to varsity midway through his freshman season a year ago and has stuck ever since.
“I guess I’ve been pretty consistent,” he said. “It’s nice to be hitting when it’s warm out like this. A lot better than trying to hit in the snow.”
East got on the board in the fourth, parlaying a leadoff single by Sean Allan, a walk to Jordan Grams, a base hit by Pat Rohlfing and a run-scoring grounder by Nick Brink.
West answered with two more runs in the fourth. Base hits by Ian Schwickert and Steven Nessler and a walk to Weber set the stage for Wollenzien’s two-run single. The rally left West holding a 5-1 lead.
The game’s final run came across in the seventh as the Cougars capitalized on a single from Rohlfing and two infield errors to score an unearned run.
East pitcher Grams pitched well in defeat. He allowed eight hits but just three earned runs. He struck out one and walked one.
Ries ended up with a four-hitter. He walked one and gave up one earned run while pitching the complete-game victory.
When asked if playing against East gave him a little extra motivation, Ries said not really.
“It’s fun to play East but this season it’s been fun to play anybody,” he said. “The warm weather is nice. It’s tough to pitch when your hands are frozen.”
Rohlfing finished with a 3-for-3 performance for the Cougars. Brink had the lone RBI.
East (1-12) takes on West (8-5) again today at 4 p.m. at Wolverton Field.