The Vermillion High baseball team owes the Bon Homme/Scotland/Menno club a dose of its own medicine, and perhaps the Tanagers will get that chance in the next week as the Eastern Division playoffs in Region 1B of high school baseball get under way.
The Tanagers suffered frustrating one-run losses to the Bon Homme twice within an eight-day span, concluding with a tough 1-0 defeat in extra innings at Prentis Park last Saturday night. All that means is that, if VHS and Bon Homme were to meet again, the game would be in Tabor instead of in Vermillion.
In order to get another crack at Bon Homme, however, the Tanagers will have to first deal with the matter at hand, and that means Beresford in the first round of the playoffs. That game will be played at 6 p.m. Monday at Prentis Park.
During the regular season the Tanagers were 2-1 against the Watchdogs, losing 17-6, winning 24-11 and then edging them 7-6 last Wednesday at Prentis Park in another contest that went down to the last out before a decision was reached.
Brian Hansen was the tough-luck losing pitcher in Saturday's 1-0 eight-inning loss to Bon Homme. He and his defense had kept the Cavaliers scoreless through seven innings of regulation play, allowing only three hits (none after the third inning), striking out seven and walking only two.
At the same time, however, the Tanagers could do little to break the control that Bon Homme hurler Doug Vanecek had over them. Through seven innings Vanecek struck out 10, including at least one in each inning, walked only one, and didn't allow a Vermillion hit until D'Andre Fore broke up the no-hitter with a solid smash with one out in the bottom of the sixth. That was the first ball VHS was able to even get out of the infield off Vanecek.
Despite that, the Tanagers had a chance to win the game in the bottom of the seventh when, with two out, Sam Ekstrom coaxed the first walk off Vanecek. When the Bon Homme catcher tried to pick him off first, the throw sailed into right field, and Ekstrom went all the way to third. But Vanecek was equal to the challenge, getting Nick Anglin on a swinging third strike to send the game to extra innings.
Bon Homme finally broke through against Hansen in the top of the eighth when Vanecek hismelf and Tyler Edler singled with one out. A double steal moved both runners along, and Macon Oplinger's sacrifice fly plated Vanecek with the game's only run.
Now trailing 1-0 as they came to bat in the bottom of the eighth, the Tanagers got their second hit of the game when Denny Kainrath stroked a clean hit to right field. Coach Jason Gault ordered his next two batters to sacrifice, and both Zach McDonald and Fore answered the challenge with beautiful bunts to send Kainrath to third base.
That set the stage for Jason Rasmussen to try to tie the game for Vermillion, but he didn't get the chance because Bon Homme ordered an intentional walk. Rasmussen immediately stole second base uncontested, giving the Tanagers not only the chance to tie the game but to win it with a base hit. But reliever Brian Bartlett, who had taken Vanecek's spot on the mound to start the inning, saved the game for Bon Homme by striking out Tyler Husby on a called third strike to end it.
During the scoreless seven innings that preceded all of the eighth-inning drama, Bon Homme had threatened a couple of times, but Vermillion's defense, despite a three-error game, had saved the day. On one instance catcher Scott Iverson threw a strike to Husby at third to nail an oncoming baserunner in a bang-bang play that could probably have been called "out" as well as "safe." Rasmussen at shortstop as usual made a pair of beautiful saves on ground balls as did Ekstrom at second and Anglin at first.
Vermillion's only scoring threat prior to the seventh had come an inning earlier when Fore got his single and Rasmussen was hit with a pitch with two out. But a strikeout ended that opportunity. In fact, Bon Homme pitchers ended five of the eight Vermillion at-bats with strikeouts. It was one of those nights when excellent pitching overshadowed everything else.
In the win over Beresford, the Tanagers tied the game at 1-1 in the second when Chayse Meierkort reached on a single, moved to second on a walk and scored on an infield throwing error.
VHS put four runs on the board as eight men batted in the fourth. Meierkort started it all with a single, one of four hits in a perfect 4-for-4 night. Anglin's single scored him. A pitcher's throwing error allowed Anglin to score, then Rasmussen's booming triple scored two more runs.
Beresford rallied to within 5-3 with two in the sixth, but a crucial throw by Rasmussen from shortstop and a great scoop of the ball out of the dirt by Anglin at first ended the inning and prevented further damage.
Beresford contributed to its own demise by allowing McDonald to reach base on an error to start the bottom of the sixth. A hit batsman and a walk loaded the bases, and Meierkort came through with a two-out, bases-full single to put the Tanagers ahead by a seemingly safe 7-3 margin.
But the Watchdogs were within 7-4 after two walks and a single off reliever Ekstrom in their final at-bat. A two-run triple by Matt Hoines then pulled Beresford to within one run. But a ground ball to third-baseman Hansen was played cleanly, and his peg to first base ended the game with the potential tying run stranded at third.
Husby started on the mound for the Tanagers and allowed only three Beresford hits over five innings while striking out four and walking only one.
Besides Meierkort's four hits, Hansen had two hits and Anglin and Rasmussen one apiece.
The Vermillion JVs scored a 5-0 win over Bon Homme as Joe Mazour went the five-inning distance to pick up the pitching win. He scattered five hits, and Bon Homme managed to get only two fly balls out of the infield against him.
Meierkort's sacrifice fly produced one run for the Tanagers in the first. Hits in the third by Tanner Settles and Meierkort set the table for two more Bon Homme errors that let in three runs. The fifth VHS run scored in the fourth when Collin Bertram led off with a single, advanced to third on an outfield error and scored on Collin Olson's hit.