Post 1 advances to winnerâ�?�?s bracket By Parker Knox
Sportswriter In its two most recent state tournament appearances in 2003 and 2007, Vermillion Post 1 failed to get out of the first day unbeaten. Not this time! Despite leading by 13-4 in the middle of the sixth inning and still having to endure some sweaty-palm moments in the late innings, Post 1 outlasted Big Stone City, 14-10, in this year's tournament opener in Platte Wednesday. Vermillion advanced to a winner's bracket game Thursday evening against Groton and assured itself of still being alive as late as Friday's third round. "It's been awhile since we won a game in a state tournament, so it's a good win," said Coach Jason Gault, whose club's record improved to 27-8. "You have to give Big Stone City credit. They didn't give up. It got a little scrappy at the end." Pitching ace Tyler Johnson worked the first six innings, striking out six, walking only one, and giving up six earned runs and seven hits. Kyle Nemec relieved for the final three innings, working out of a king-size jam in his first inning, the seventh, and closing down Big Stone City for good in the ninth with a game-ending double play he started himself. Nemec gave up four runs and five hits, walking one and striking out four. Post 1 loaded the bases with none out in the second on a walk, a JR Moore single and a dropped ball by the BSC third-baseman. After a ground ball scored one run and a wild pitch scored another, Sam McBride, Vermillion's "mighty mite," slugged a no-doubt three-run home run far and deep to left-center for a 5-0 lead. Andrew Eidem and Moore drove in a run apiece in the fourth. Meanwhile, five hits, including a pair of home runs, kept Big Stone City alive in the third and fourth as they closed to within 7-4. It became 8-4 in the fifth on another gift run brought in on a wild pitch. A five-run sixth seemed to salt the game away for Post 1. A Brian Hansen single, a bases-loaded walk to Grant Lueders, another opportune wild pitch, and a two-run single by Jason Rasmussen plated the five Vermillion runs. Johnson gave up his last two runs in the sixth as BSC closed to within 13-6, but he retired the side without further damage, then gave way to Nemec. "Tyler toughed it out," Gault said after the game. "He did a heck of a juob, just what we needed him to do." Three straight hits, a walk and an infield error gave BSC three runs, and now it was 13-9, but he regained his composure, getting a strikeout and a ground ball to Hansen to end the inning. He retired the side in the eighth in order, including two strikeouts. Vermillion added an insurance run in the ninth on a Cory Taggart hit, an error and yet another wild pitch. BSC got one in the bottom of the ninth, but with two on and only one out and the potential tying run waiting in the on-deck circle, Nemec fielded his position flawlessly, starting a 1-4-3 double play to finish it off. Of Post 1's 16 hits, Moore had four, scored twice and drove in one. Actually he had a fifth hit, but two baserunners ahead of him had to hold up to see if the ball was caught, and one of them was forced out at third, so technically Moore got credit only for a fielder's choice. Rasmussen had three hits. McBride, Taggart and Hansen hit safelyt wice. McBride had three RBIs and Rasmussen two. Despite their 14 runs and 16 hits, Vermillion could have ended it much earlier. Post 1 stranded runners in every inning — 12 in all. Big Stone City's starter, Evan Sammon, allowed 11 earned runs and 10 hits in 5 1/3 innings, walking six and fanning three. His reliever, Jeff Watson, gave up one run and five hits in 3 2/3 innings. "We're in good shape as far as our (pitching) arms are concerned for the rest of the tournament," Gault said. Post 1's Friday game will be at 12:30 or 7:30 p.m., depending on whether the team lost or won Thursday. Fans who can't get to Platte can follow games play-by-play online at www.plattesd.org, and Post 1 games are being broadcast on KVTK-1570.