Mother Nature dampens
play at Wood Bat Classic By Parker Knox
Sportswriter Mother Nature was the eventual winner in the eighth annual Lewis and Clark Wood Bat Classic. Overnight rains and wet grounds forced cancellation of Saturday's and Sunday's play at Prentis Park after the tournament began Friday in ideal conditions. For Vermillion Post 1 the first day at least provided one sweet victory in two games as the team's record for the season improved to 7-4 through the weekend. Post 1 will be home tonight (Friday) for two games against Harrisburg at 6 and 8 p.m. In the coming week Yankton comes to Prentis Park for a single game at 6 p.m. Tuesday before Post 1 goes to Harrisburg the following night. Post 1 7, S.F. East 6 In a game with rollercoaster extremes of emotion—from an early high to a seventh-inning kick in the gut to an exhilarating finish—Vermillion persevered. Picking themselves up off the ground in extra innings, the Post 1 club found a way to stun Sioux Falls East, 7-6, in nine innings in the first—and best—game of the Lewis & Clark Classic. The winning run came about thanks to leadoff man Sam McBride's doing his job—getting on base. He coaxed a walk off West reliever Tony Viger, the South Dakota Player of the Year in high school baseball, to start the bottom of the ninth, stole second and advanced to third on Jason Rasmussen's infield grounder. After Cory Taggart walked and stole second without a throw, Kyle Nemec was walked intentionally to load the bases and set up a potential game-saving double play. But Andrew Eidem would have none of that. On a 3-2 count the Post 1 catcher drilled a line drive into right field to bring in McBride with the winning run. If there was any disappointment in the Vermillion dugout, it was that starter Tyler Johnson didn't get the pitching win after throwing 6 1/3 innings of four-hit, five-strikeout shutout baseball. He and his mates took a 6-0 lead into the top of the seventh and final inning, but with one out four straight singles and a dramatic three-run homer into the trees behind left field by Ryan Hander tied the game. Grant Lueders relieved Johnson and though he walked the potential lead run with two out, he got a ground ball to shortstop Jason Rasmussen to keep the game tied. Vermillion had the winning run at third base with nobody out in the bottom of the seventh when Taggart tripled. On a one out fly into short center, knowing it would take a perfect play to nail Taggart at the plate, Coach Jason Gault sent him to try to win the game right there. West's centerfielder launched a perfect throw, and Taggart was tagged out as he tried to slide into home plate. Lueders faced pressure from West in both extra innings. Both times West placed two men on with one out, and both times Lueders was equal to the challenge, getting two outs to keep the game tied. While Johnson deserved a better fate than to lose his pitching win, likewise Lueders deserved it, and he got it. Those four men stranded by West in the extra stanzas gave them a total of 10 left on base for the game. Early on Vermillion came out firing in its own "small ball" style. McBride led off the first with a basehit, then the next three men — Rasmussen, Taggart and Nemec — all bunted and all reached base safely, not a one of their hits leaving the infield. A two-run single by Brian Hansen climaxed a four-run first for Post 1. The home club made it 5-0 in the second when Mike Szymonski walked and was sacrificed to second. When Taggart's grounder was thrown away at first by the West shortstop, Szymonski kept steaming around third and scored. Meanwhile, Johnson kept West scoreless, scattering four hits. In the top of the third, third-baseman Hansen was the only defensive player Johnson needed. Hansen made all three outs in the inning, including a spectacular lunging stop of a line drive headed down the foul line. Hansen stretched low and to his right to snag the ball and, maintaining his balance, fired to first accurately. Eight different players hit safely for Vermillion among its 11 hits, including two each from Taggart, Eidem and Hansen. Chaz Palmer had three of West's 12 hits while Nick Rezac and and Ryan Anderson had two apiece. The second straight win for Vermillion over Sioux Falls West, it was also Post 1's seventh straight victory after opening the season with three losses—two to Sioux Falls East and one to West. Spearfish 5, Post 1 2 Vermillion was looking up at Spearfish all night long in Post 1's second tournament game after the Black Hills club scored once in the first and twice in the second off J.R. Moore. All three of those runners reached base on walks. Post 1 got one run back in the second when Moore led off with a triple and scored on Lueders' single. They made it a 3-2 deficit an inning later on Nemec's single and Hansen's RBI hit. But Spearfish gained breathing room on a two-run homer by pitcher Allen Hemeyer in the fifth. Moore struck out four of the last five Spearfish batters in the sixth and seventh. Meanwhile, Post 1 got a leadoff double in the sixth and a leadoff single in the seventh but couldn't sustain those rallies. Spearfish won despite only four hits allowed by Moore. Meanwhile Post 1 had seven hits—two of them by Rasmussen—and stranded nine men, including two each in the first four innings. With a 2-0 record in Friday's play, Spearfish advanced to the semifinals at Hartington. So did West as the wild card despite having lost to Vermillion. The tiebreaker between the two 1-1 teams was allowing fewer runs in their two games. Sunday's schedule got started at Hartington, and West defeated Spearfish 7-0 behind two-hit pitching and 13 strikeouts by Ryan hander. The East-Mitchell semifinal was rained out, and no championship game was played. Post 1 11-5, Elk Point 2-4 After demolishing Elk Point in the first game, Post 1 made it a doubleheader sweep with a 5-4 six-inning win last Tuesday. The only time Vermillion led in the nightcap was the moment the game ended. With two out Tyler Johnson reached safely on an error, was wild-pitched to second and scored to win the game when Grant Lueders delivered a solid line drive into right field. It was only Post 1's third hit of the game. Lueders had one of the others, and Kyle Nemec had the third. Vermillion was blessed with six Elk Point errors, and every Post 1 run was helped along by at least one of those miscues. J.R. Moore pitched four innings, allowing only three hits. Jason Rasmussen moved in from shortstop to throw the last two innings. He retired EP in order in the fifth. In the sixth he helped his own cause with a sensational defensive play. He scooted down off the mound to field a bunt along the third-base line. As he reached the ball, he slipped on the grass but still, from a seated position, nailed the batter with a perfect strike to first base. Johnson, who had moved from the outfield to fill Rasmussen's spot at shortstop, himself made a sparkling play to end the top of the sixth, keep the game tied and set the stage for Lueders' game-winning heroics. Also last week Post 1 won a twinbill in Freeman, coming from behind in the second game with three runs in the final inning to complete the sweep.