Post 1's defending state Class "B" American Legion baseball champions opened their 2010 season Tuesday night by spraying 14 solidly-stroked base hits all over the Canton ballpark, and, except for one rather dicey moment in the seventh inning, the game was Vermillion's all the way.
Post 1 emerged victorious by a 7-2 count, not only on the strength of their hitting but also on some sterling defense and the lights-out starting pitching effort of Brian Hansen.
Hansen threw the first five innings of the nine-inning contest, retiring Canton in 1-2-3 fashion three times. The only base hit he allowed was an accidentally hit ball that went all of 25 feet from home plate but which was in just the right spot so Hansen didn't have time to come down off the mound to cover it and still nip the runner at first base. That base runner was cut down in a force play to end that inning. The only other base runner Hansen allowed was on a leadoff walk in the fourth, after which he retired three in a row.
The game wasn't 15 minutes old before the season's first "SportsCenter" moment occurred on defense. Kyle Nemec, moved to third base this season from his first base spot of a year ago, showed amazing reaction time for a big man when he brilliantly dived to his right to snare a ground ball headed over the third-base bag, then picked himself up and fired the runner out at first.
An inning later Jason Rasmussen at shortstop made a similarly shining-moment play to knock down a hot line drive and erase the batter at first. Defense in center field will likely also be a Post 1 highlight. There newcomer D'Andre Fore showed his speed will allow him to track down almost anything hit in that direction.
Fore as leadoff man and Rasmussen right behind him in the No. 2 slot were on base the firsts five times they stepped to the plate and accounted for the first three Vermillion runs. They singled back-to-back to start the game, and Fore scored on Nemec's infield grunder.
In the third Fore singled and Rasmussen walked to start another rally. This time Nemec doubled them both home, giving "Nemo" three RBIs for the night.
A fourth Post 1 score came in the fourth when Tyler Husby singled and later scored on Rasmussen's infield ground ball.
The lead became 5-0 in the fifth when Cory Taggart doubled and scored on Grant Lueders' basehit.
The only Canton uprising of the night occurred in reliever Nick Anglin's second inning of duty in the seventh. A walk, two singles and a two-run double cut the Vermillion lead to only 5-2, and Canton had the tying runs on base with only one out. But Anglin persuaded the next two Canton batters to pop out to shortstop and to strike out, respectively, to end the threat.
Vermillion got those two runs back immediately in the top of the eighth when Husby's leadoff single, Mike Szymonski's double and another Taggart double increased the lead back to five at 7-2.
Anglin mowed down Canton batters in order in the eighth and ninth to end the game triumphantly.
Besides Nemec's three hits and three RBIs, Fore, Taggart, J.R. Moore and Husby had two hits each.
This weekend Post 1 will see home action for the first time in a 7 p.m. Sunday game against Elk Point-Jefferson in the closing game of the Baseball Opening Day celebration at Prentis Park.
Next week Post 1 goes to Sioux Falls East on Tuesday night, then returns home for three full days of baseball during the Lewis & Clark Classic. On Friday and Saturday five games will be played at three sites—Prentis Park as well as Yankton and Hartington—with the tournament winding up with semifinal and final games on Sunday, June 6, in Yankton.
The Post 1 games on Friday at Prentis Park will be at 11 a.m. against O'Neill, Neb., and at 8 p.m. against Sturgis. On Saturday games will again start at 11 a.m., but the Vermillion games that day will be at 1:15 p.m. against Groton and at 8 p.m. against Blair, NE.