Dell Rapids PBR eliminates Red Sox

Dell Rapids PBR eliminates Red Sox For the third time in six years, the Vermillion Red Sox were eliminated from the State B Amateur Baseball tournament by Dell Rapids PBR.

The Red Sox lost 4-2 on Thursday night, Aug. 16 at the Birdcage in Sioux Falls.

After a scoreless first inning which saw both teams get two runners on base, only to leave them stranded, PBR scored one run in the bottom of the second as Jeff Welbig singled off of Red Sox starter Jay Berkenpas that brought home Andrew Johnson.

Clarence Ejellanger tried to score on the play, but an accurate throw from center fielder Kyle Thousand gunned down the PBR designated hitter at the plate. Ejellanger had to hold up for a moment near third base, as Johnson stayed put at third, thinking about tagging up on the play. When the ball fell in for a single, Johnson had to hustle home to barely beat Thousand's throw.

Ejellanger tried to bowl over Red Sox catcher Steve Fejfar, but the veteran Vermillion backstop held on to the ball. Berkenpas managed to get out of the inning without further damage.

Vermillion managed to get runners on base against PBR starter Dale Solberg, but could not seem to get the key hit when they needed it to bring a run home.

Berkenpas got into trouble in the bottom of the fourth as he issued a walk to start the inning to Johnson. Ejellnager followed with a single, and advanced to second on Thousand's throw to third base which failed to get Johnson, who slid in safe.

With Jay Bentz at the plate, Berkenpas uncorked a wild pitch to bring home Johnson. A passed ball one pitch later brought home Ejellanger to make it 3-0. Berkenpas issued a walk to Bentz, but the Red Sox lefty managed to regain his composure to retire the next three batters in order.

Thousand came on in relief in the fifth inning. Craig Hansen doubled with one out, and came home on a single by Johnson with two outs. PBR now had a 4-0 advantage.

Vermillion finally got to the veteran southpaw Solberg in the sixth as Chris Belding led off with a double. He moved to third on a wild pitch, and came home on a sacrifice fly by Colby Lessman to make the score 4-1.

Dusty Moore led off the seventh with his third walk of the game, stole second, and came home on a one-out single by Jason Huska to make it 4-2. Solberg managed to strike out Belding, but Fejfar hit a double to put two runners in scoring position.

Solberg's night on the hill was done, as a pickup player from Lennox, Eric Grave, came on to pitch to Lessman. With the tying runs on base, Grave struck out Lessman with an 89-mph fast ball to end the threat.

Thousand got into a jam in the bottom of the seventh, as two runners reached base with no outs, thanks to a walk and an error. But Thousand shut down the next three batters to keep Vermillion within striking distance.

Grave retired the Red Sox in order in the eighth, hitting 90 mph on the stadium's radar gun. Thousand responded in kind in the bottom of the eighth, hitting 85 mph himself on the radar gun.

Moore and Jim McNaughton led off the top of the ninth with back-to-back singles to put the tying runs on base. Grave was replaced on the mound by Landon Klock with Vermillion bringing up the heart of their order.

Huska's bunt attempt was popped up, and caught by PBR first baseman Tracy Langer, who had just moved to that position from third base, for the first out. Belding hit a short fly ball into right field that was caught by Hansen, and Fejfar struck out to end the game, and the season for the Red Sox.

Two times in the final three innings, the Red Sox stranded two base runners in scoring position. They stranded 12 base runners in all, compared to 10 for PBR.

Solberg got the win for PBR, pitching 6 2/3 innings in a starting role. He fanned five, walked four, and gave up two runs on seven hits. Grave gave up two hits in 1 1/3 innings of relief, striking out two. Klock picked up the save by getting the last three outs without allowing a hit.

Berkenpas suffered the loss for Vermillion by giving up three runs in four innings. The left hander surrendered three hits, four walks, and struck out two. Thousand pitched four innings of relief, giving up one run on two hits. Thousand walked two and also fanned two.

Moore led the Red Sox offense by drawing three walks, hitting a single, and scored once. Fejfar and Belding both singled and doubled. Huska had two singles. McNaughton and Jon Merrigan each had one single.

Johnson keyed the PBR attack by hitting two singles, drawing a walk, scoring twice, and driving in a run. Hansen doubled, singled, and scored a run. Bentz drew two walks and singled.

The bottom of the PBR order, the 7-8-9 hitters, collected half of the hits and three of the four runs for the victors. Combined, they also drew four walks as well.

The Red Sox finished their season with a 24-9 mark.

PBR went on to win the state "B" title by downing their crosstown rivals, the Dell Rapids Mudcats, 8-6, to claim their seventh title in the last 11 years. The title game for the first time ever featured two teams from the same town. Hansen from PBR was named tournament MVP.

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