Post 1 has exhilarating win against Alexandria By Parker Knox
Sportswriter Vermillion pitcher Cory Taggart, with the tying runs at second and third and only one out in the top of the seventh inning, struck out the fourth and fifth men in the Alexandria batting order to end the game and lead his Post 1 team to an exhilarating 3-1 win. The nightcap of Tuesday's doubleheader at Prentis Park was nearly as dramatic as the opener. Post 1's Kyle Nemec outdueled Alexandria ace Tyson Gau, primarily because Nemec's team made the plays and Gau's team did not. An unlikely five-run fourth inning propelled Vermillion to a 6-1 victory. The sweep of Alexandria concluded a second straight all-victorious week for Post 1, which stretched its winning streak to 11 and its season's record to 20-4, heading into two contests at Sioux Falls East Wednesday. The weekend saw Vermillion sweep into Winner and emerge with three no-contest wins to capture the title at Winner's invitational tournament. In back-to-back Saturday night games Post 1 dismantled Mobridge, 11-2, with JR Moore pitching the victory and whitewashed host Winner-Colome, 9-0, with Tyler Johnson keeping the home team off the scoreboard. On Sunday Vermillion completed the tournament with a 15-0 win over South Central (Burke-Gregory) as Nick Anglin earned the pitching triiumph. The last chance for local fans to see this exciting Post 1 ballclub at Prentis Park comes up Tuesday when Freeman arrives for a 6 p.m. doubleheader. Post 1 then closes the regular season with a single game at Yankton Wednesday before regional tourney play commences at Lennox on Saturday, July 11. Tuesday night's pair of wins were the kind of tense, pressure-packed games a team will face at tournament time, and Post 1 weathered the storm just fine. On the other side of the field, it was a doubly frustrating evening for Alexandria. Taggart had Alexandria baserunners surrounding him throughout Tuesday's opener, but he and his teammates were clutch when they most needed to be. For example, in the first inning Alex loaded the bases with one out, but a typically sparking Rasmussen to McBride to Nemec double play ended that threat. A double play started by Taggart himself ended Alex's sixth inning. Another example came in the fifth. Alex, after scoring its only run when a long fly ball popped out of left-fielder JR Moore's glove, had a runner at second with only one out. But Taggart was helped by a tough catch of a fly by Grant Lueders in right and then struck out the final batter. In another inning third-baseman Brian Hansen, with Alexandria runners at the corners, coolly scooped up a ground ball and fired to first to end that threat. Moore in left field tracked down a long fly ball with two men on base, catching the ball while running toward the fence with his back to the infield and the ball coming over his shoulder. Alexandria stranded 10 runners but never more dramatically than in the game-ending top of the seventh. A leadoff single, a force play and a double put Alexandria's tying runners at second and third, but Taggart got a called third strike against Gau, their clean-up hitter, and coaxed Pierce Smith to fan wildly at a high pitch to end the game spectacularly. Vermillion got its three runs right at the start against Camron kerkhove. Sam McBride singled. Then true to Post 1 form, Jason Rasmussen and Taggart both bunted, getting their bats on the ball, and because they did, strange but good things happened. Rasmussen's bunt was down the foul line and had to be fielded by the first baseman. But he turned and threw past the second baseman covering the bag, scoring one run. A wild pitch made it 2-0. Then Taggart forced the pitcher to field his bunt, and Kerkhove threw the ball away at first to score the third run. McBride and Moore had two hits apiece of Vermillion's seven. Taggart scattered eight hits, struck out seven and walked four. Coach Jason Gault, even though Post 1 was to face the legendary all-around athlete Gau as Alexandria's pitcher in the second game, filled the bottom half of his batting order with bench players who hadn't had the chance to play in the opener. In the one inning that decided the game, they came through. Up to that point, it was a 1-1 game. Vermillion scored on Nemec's RBI single that scored the singling Rasmussen in the first inning. Alexandria tied it on a triple by Brett Vondra in the third. Gau, who struck out 10 and scattered five hits, walked only two, but he started Post 1's fourth by walking clean-up hitter Nemec, and that was a bad idea. Andrew Eidem followed by beating out an infield hit just past Gau's reach on the mound. Mike Szymonski took one for the team, getting hit by a pitch to load the bases. So it befell Denny Kainrath to make something happen. There were two strikes against him when he got his bat on a Gau pitch and sent it hopping past the mound. Gau couldn't field it, so the second-baseman had to, and he, seeing Nemec trying to score, threw wildly to the plate. The ball caromed back to the screen, scoring not only Nemec but also Eidem. Then when the catcher heaved a throw toward second base to try to get Kainrath, that ball was misplayed, allowing Szymonski to cross the plate. The score went from 1-1 to 4-1 in the blinking of an eye, but Post 1 wasn't done. With one out Earl Kiertzner coaxed the other walk off Gau. With two out Rasmussen was drilled by a Gau pitch, so again the sacks were crowded. Grant Lueders joined the fray with the game's decisive basehit, a solid two-run single that made it 6-1. Nemec cruised, striking out seven, walking none and allowing only four hits. At one stretch he retired 12 Alexandria batters in succession. Alexandria's four baserunners all reached base to start innings, but in all three cases Nemec then retired three men in a row. He saved his best drama for the end. Gau led off the seventh with a double and for some strange reason successfully attempted to steal third base though his team was down by five runs. But never mind. Nemec promptly struck out the side to complete the doubleheader sweep.