It's not every day that a baseball team is forced to play eight players.
Nor is it a situation that Valley City High School baseball coach Trevar Hansen ever predicted he'd have to play with.
But in a 20-6 loss in the second game of a doubleheader sweep to Devils Lake Monday at Charlie Brown Field, the Hi-Liners caught a stroke of bad luck right as the team seemed on the verge of its first win.
Instead, the Hi-Liners had a game-ending injury to Brett Rockneberg in the second inning that forced the team to play short handed for the final four innings.
"It can happen, it will to us," Hansen joked after the loss. "It seems everything that can go wrong does."
After losing the first game 15-3, two members of the team left to attend the school's Fine Arts Recognition Night at the Hi-Liner Activity Center. Another was unable to play due to illness, which left the Hi-Liners with only nine on the lineup card.
It went well early. Valley City jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the first inning, then scored three more in the second to go up 4-1.
The second inning was both the high point and the turning poing.
In building the lead, Valley City's Brett Rockneberg, who scored the team's run in the first inning, hit a single to centerfield, scoring Masyn Olson to make it 3-1.
When Rockneberg rounded first, Hansen said he planted his foot wrong returning to first and aggravated an existing knee injury that caused him to miss time throughout the season.
Without a sub available, the team had to play the rest of the game with eight players in the field and took an out whenever it was Rockneberg's turn in the order.
The injury hurt momentum brought on by early play from young players including Jacob Miller, Olson and Ben Baasch, who all reached base and scored in the second inning.
Miller especially provided a spark throughout the day and went 5-5 at the plate between the two games and scored two of Valley City's runs in the second.
"That was a big surprise but it was nice to see him hit well," Hansen said.
But after the injury, Devils Lake took all the momentum as Valley City's pitching struggled, allowing the first six batters to reach in the third inning and allowing four runs.
Valley City tied it 5-5 in the bottom of the third, but Devils Lake got a mix of walks, errors and hits to score 15 runs in the final three innings before the game ended after the sixth.
In the earlier game, which counted toward the Eastern Dakota Conference standings, Devils Lake used a six-run second inning to beat the Hi-Liners.
The Hi-Liners fell behind 2-0 after the first inning but got Rockneberg around the bases to trail 2-1.
In the top of the second, the Hi-Liners got a quick out but then allowed six of the next seven batters to reach, and eventually score.
The inning included a three-run home run to right field by Brandon Kurtz.
Though the Hi-Liners haven't gotten a win yet this season, Hansen is hoping it will find one by the end of a busy week.
Valley City plays a home doubleheader with Maple Valley/Enderlin Thursday, then travels to West Fargo for a doubleheader Friday and finishes the regular season with a Saturday doubleheader against Grand Forks Central at 1 p.m.