Vermillion Post 1 defeats
Dakota Valley in postseason play By Parker Knox
Sports Writer Playing for their postseason lives for the second time in two days, Vermillion Post 1 fought off a tough challenge from Dakota Valley Monday night at Harrisburg. Post 1 triumphed by a 5-3 score, advancing into Tuesdayâ�?�?s championship night against Elk Point-Jefferson and needing to beat the Huskies twice to capture the Region 3B title.�? The regional champion opens play in the state â�?�?Bâ�? tournament at Milbank next Wednesday. Vermillionâ�?�?s hopes of repeating as regional kings rode on the arm of J.R. Moore, and he was equal to the task. Mooreâ�?�?s gutsy performance included six strikeouts and seven scattered hits, and he got tougher when he had to.�? Elk Point hurler Josh Vandenhul, after falling behind 5-1, found his groove and retired Post 1 batters without a baserunner through the sixth through eighth innings, so the pressure on Moore to keep Dakota Valley at bay increased.�? At one stretch in the late going, Moore retired seven Panther batters in succession.�? An almost flawless infield defense and a pair of crucial throws in from the outfield helped immensely. Vermillion had reached Monday nightâ�?�?s do-or-die contest by going 2-1 in weekend games.�? Post 1 opened the tournament with a 6-4 Friday win over Harrisburg.�? After rains and poor field conditions wiped out Saturdayâ�?�?s play and moved the tourney temporarily to North Sioux City, Post 1 suffered a 5-4 loss to Elk Point-Jefferson at noon Sunday, then rebounded in a must-win situation with an 11-1 elimination of Lennox late that afternoon. Back in Harrisburg Monday night, Cory Taggart was the ultimate leadoff man for Vermillion.�? The first three times he batted, he led off an inning, and all three times he reached base and scored.�? In the first inning his leadoff single was followed by Jason Rasmussenâ�?�?s hit and Reid Meierkortâ�?�?s grounder for a 1-0 lead. In the third, Taggartâ�?�?s sharp grounder was fielded at third base, but in his haste to nab Taggart at first, third-baseman Brock DeVries fired the ball over his first baseman and Taggart moved to second.�? Again Rasmussen moved him along with a hit, and again Meierkort made contact, singling to score Taggart.�? Kyle Olsen followed with a run-scoring infield grounder. Inspired by his teamâ�?�?s 3-0 lead, Moore struck out the side in the top of the fourth.�? But in the fifth a leadoff walk, a wild pitch and a bang-bang play at the plate that couldnâ�?�?t be handled produced the first Panther run.�? The next two batters reached, so the tying runs were in scoring position with only one out, and Post 1â�?�?s 3-1 lead was in serious jeopardy. But Meierkort in centerfield caught a flyball and fired a strike to the plate that sent the Dakota Valley baserunner back to third with two out. The next batter sent a dying quail into right field where Tyler Johnson made a sliding catch to end the inning and save Vermillionâ�?�?s lead. Taggart led off the bottom of the fifth and singled, moved to second on Rasmussenâ�?�?s grounder and was wild-pitched to third. Kyle Olsen drove a screaming liner down the third-base line, just inches inside the foul line, to score Taggart.�? Meierkort moved around, then scored on Andrew Eidemâ�?�?s single for a 5-1 lead. Vermillion never had another baserunner, so it was up to Moore and his defense.�? A leadoff single in the sixth, another hit�? and an outfield fly produced a Dakota Valley run, but after catching that fly ball, Meierkort fired another bullet to catcher Eidem, who in turn threw to third-baseman Kyle Nemec in time to put the tag on an advancing Dakota Valley runner to end the threat. In the seventh and eighth, Nemec at third and Rasmussen at short each made fine plays on grounders for outs, and Moore in the front of the mound and Eidem behind the plate caught sky-high pop-ups for outs. So the game went to the ninth with a 5-2 score.�? Moore got the leadoff man on a strikeout, but the Panthersâ�?�? Andrew Cork�? singled and stole second, and Blake Gunderson singled to score Cork.�? When a Moore pitch hit batter Vandenhul, Dakota Valley suddenly had the tying runs on base with one out and cleanup hitter Mark Manke striding to the plate. It was time for Post 1â�?�?s double-play combination to save the day.�? Rasmussen scooped up Vandenhul's sharp groundball at shortstop, second-baseman Sam McBride made the pivot beautifully at second and first-baseman Olsen snared McBrideâ�?�?s throw for a scintillating twin-killing that eliminated Dakota Valley and saved Post 1â�?�?s season for yet another day. All five of Vermillionâ�?�?s runs were scored by the top three men in the batting lineup â�?�? Taggart, Rasmussen and Meierkort â�?�? and six of the teamâ�?�?s eight hits were contributed by those players and the fourth hitter, Olsen.�? Gunderson had three of the seven hits Moore allowed. Vermillion had two runners cut down at the plate in the game, one on the tail end of a failed double-steal attempt and the other on a player trying to score from second on a single.