Vermillion Red Sox claim first state championship

Vermillion Red Sox claim first state championship by Steven Thum The Vermillion Red Sox finished the State B Amateur Baseball Tournament with a flurry, winning three games in three days at Cadwell Park in Mitchell to claim their first-ever state championship.

Quarterfinal

Vermillion Red Sox 8

Dell Rapids Mudcats 4

On Friday in the quarterfinals, the Red Sox sent lefty Jay Berkenpas to the mound to face the Dell Rapids Mudcats, who countered with Chris Tow from Lennox on the hill.

It was a pitcher's duel for the first five innings. Vermillion got on the board first as Cress Murdock hit a solo homer in the top of the second. The Mudcats got a run in the bottom of that same inning as Matt Wilber singled in Jeff Schultz.

In the top of the sixth with the score still tied at 1-1, the Red Sox loaded the bases with one out. Murdock hit a a grand slam home run for the Red Sox to give them a 5-1 lead.

The Mudcats got a couple of runs in the bottom of the sixth as the Red Sox made three errors, two by Berkenpas. But the Red Sox lefty got out of a bases loaded jam with a 5-3 lead.

Vermillion tacked on three runs in the top of the eighth to chase Tow from the mound. Dustin Moore walked and came home on a double by Jason Huska to finish Tow's day.

Wilber came on to strike out Murdock. Wilber, a southpaw, intentionally walked Colby Lessman, a righty, to face the Merrigan brothers, Jon and Jay, both lefties. But the strategy backfired as Jon and Jay both singled in a run each to make it 8-3.

The Mudcats got a run in the bottom of the eighth, but were shut down by Berkenpas in the ninth to give Vermillion the 8-4 victory.

Murdock slammed two homers and drove in five to support the pitching of Berkenpas, who scattered 12 hits, but gave up only four runs. Berkenpas fanned 10 and walked three. Tow took the loss by surrendering seven runs on seven hits in 7 and 1/3 innings of work.

Semifinal

Vermillion Red Sox 11

Redfield Dairy Queen 5

In the semifinals on a very hot Saturday afternoon, the Red Sox faced the team that eliminated them from last year's tourney, Redfield Dairy Queen.

Billy Welcher started on the mound for the Red Sox, while Keith Gall got the starting call for Redfield.

Redfield struck first as Jay Kusler doubled home Joel Osborn in the bottom of the first for an early 1-0 lead. It would not last long.

The Red Sox got a lead-off single in the top of the third from Jon Merrigan to start a rally. Jay Merrigan would lay down a bunt to move brother Jon into scoring position. Robin Chute hit a single to put runners at the corners. Chute stole second, and both runners would score on a double by Brian Boyer. Moore singled home Boyer to give the Red Sox a 3-1 lead.

Redfield got a run in the bottom of the third as Brent Osborn led off with a triple and scored on a ground out by Joel Osborn to pull DQ within a run.

Murdock would double in a run in the top of the fifth for Vermillion, but Redfield countered with a run in the bottom of the fifth as Brent Osborn hit an RBI single to make it 4-3.

The Red Sox pulled away in the top of the seventh as Gall walked Steve Fejfar, and Huska reached on an error. Murdock singled home courtesy runner Jason Gault, running for the Red Sox catcher, Fejfar. Lessman slapped a double to plate two, and Jon Merrigan's single brought home Lessman to make it 8-3.

Redfield would get a run in the bottom of the seventh on a sacrifice fly by Kusler.

Gall would leave the game in the top of the eighth after Chute's leadoff single. Lonnie Stover, who beat the Red Sox last year on the mound, came on in relief. Boyer got a single to put two runners on base. Moore laid down a bunt, which Stover picked up cleanly, but threw wildly to first, allowing two runs to score. One out later, Huska singled to plate Moore to make it 11-4.

Welcher was done after seven innings of work, giving way to Murdock. The tall righthander gave up back-to-back singles with one out, but a 5-4-3 twin-killing ended the threat.

Redfield would get one run in the bottom of the ninth, but it was nowhere near enough as the Red Sox won 11-5.

Welcher gave up four runs on nine hits, striking out four and walking two in his seven innings of work. Murdock pitched the final two frames and gave up one run on three hits.

Gall was tagged with the loss as he surrendered nine runs on 13 hits.

Murdock doubled twice, singled, scored once, and drove in two to lead the Red Sox offense. Huska and Jon Merrigan both singled three times, while Boyer doubled, singled, drove in two and scored twice.

Final

Vermillion Red Sox 11

Freeman Black Sox 0

The Red Sox faced the Freeman Black Sox in the finals on a hot Sunday afternoon. The Black Sox upset perennial powerhouses Canova and Dell Rapids PBR to get to the finals.

The Red Sox jumped out to an early lead against Freeman's ace pitcher, Mike Preheim. Boyer singled home Chute, who had reached on an error to start the game. After Moore grounded into a doubleplay, the Red Sox got another run as Fejfar doubled and Huska singled to make it 2-0.

Lessman led off the second with a triple, and trotted home on a double by Jon Merrigan to make it 3-0.

Lessman would single home a run in the bottom of the third for a 4-0 Vermillion lead.

Meanwhile, Berkenpas, pitching on just one day's rest, silenced the Freeman bats, allowing just two hits over the first five innings.

A 30-minute rain delay held up the game in the bottom of the fourth, but nothing would stop Vermillion on this day.

In the bottom of the fifth. Moore led off with a single, stole second, and came home on a single by Fejfar. Preheim's day was done as Eric Hortness came on in relief. An error allowed Huska to reach and courtesy runner Gault to score to make it 6-0. Hortness would retire the side in order after that, but Freeman was in a big hole.

The Black Sox got the bases loaded with one out against Berkenpas in the top of the sixth with the heart of the order coming up for Freeman, but Al Haar lined into a doubleplay to end the threat, and any hope the Black Sox had of getting back into the game.

The Red Sox would plate five runs in the bottom of the sixth, with the rally keyed by RBI singles by Lessman, Chute, Boyer, and Huska. Lee Scherschligt came on to relieve Hortness, but he could not stop the Red Sox offense before Vermillion had an 11-0 lead.

After Berkenpas retired the first batter, Garrett Pfeiffer singled to keep Freeman's hopes alive. But the Red Sox lefty would strike out the last two batters to end the game via the mercy rule, and give Vermillion its first ever state amateur baseball championship.

Berkenpas, who was named the tournament's MVP, pitched his second complete game in three days, though he only would have to work seven innings in this case. He allowed just five hits, walked two, and struck out four.

Every Red Sox hitter had at least one hit, and all but one scored at least one run. Huska and Lessman each collected three hits and drove in two.

Freeman committed five errors and turned two doubleplays. Vermillion made just one error, and had three twin-killings.

The Red Sox ended their season with a 32-5 record, while Freeman finished with a 23-14 mark.

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