After beating the Pierre Rattlers 6-2 on Friday afternoon, the season ended for the Vermillion Red Sox on Saturday afternoon at the hands of the eventual state champs, Brandon Valley, at the Class "A" Amateur Baseball tournament.
The weekend started off well for the Red Sox as they took on Pierre at Sioux Falls Stadium on a cloudy Friday afternoon. With the Red Sox as the designated visitor team, they got a run in the first inning against Pierre starter Dalton Decker. Robin Chute singled, then moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Dan Hansen. Tyler Candor slapped a single to bring home the speedy Chute to make it 1-0. A courtesy runner, Mike Archer (a pick-up player from the Sioux Falls Saints), came on for Candor. Archer moved to second on a passed ball and advanced to third on a ground out by Colby Lessman. But Archer was picked off third by Pierre catcher Tyson Lindekugel to end the threat.
Chuck Benz, the Vermilllion starter, got into a bases loaded jam in the bottom of the first, but got Adam Deneke to ground back to the box to escape harm. Benz settled down and silenced the Rattlers' bats for the next several innings.
Vermillion struck again in the top of the fifth, and got some help from Pierre in doing so. With one out, Brad Donovan and Justin Beebe laced back-to-back singles. Aaron Fischer reached on an error by Pierre third baseman Bret Graves to load the bases. Decker issued walks to Chute and Hansen on eight pitches in a row outside of the strike zone to force in two runs to make it 3-0. Decker got Candor to ground into a doubleplay to end the rally.
In the bottom of the sixth the Rattlers finally got on the scoreboard as Jordan LaBrie led off with a single. Benz retired the next two batters, but Mike Fischer kept the rally going with a single to put two runners on, and Deneke singled to bring home LaBrie to make it 3-1. Benz would retire the next batter, Decker, on a fly out to rightfield to squelch the rally.
Each team scored a run in the eighth inning. Tylor Candor drove in Chute once again with a one-out single in the top half of the frame. Pierre got to Benz as Fischer singled home Billy McElhany with no one out, and Red Sox skipper Kirk Sorenson turned to Kevin Chippenko, another pick-up player from the Saints, to put out the fire. The tall righthander did so by retiring the next three batters in order to keep Vermillion ahead 4-2.
The Red Sox would add to that lead with two runs in the top of the ninth. Drew Benton led off with a single, followed by another hit by Donovan. A walk to Aaron Fischer loaded the bases. Chute hit in a force out at second, but Benton scored on the play. Dan Hansen's grounder to second was bobbled by LaBrie as Beebe raced home to make it 6-2. Decker got Candor to fly out to center to retire the side.
Cheppenko walked a batter in the bottom of the ninth, and an error by Chute put two runners on, but Cheppenko would chalk up three strikeouts to end Pierre's season.
Benz allowed two runs on seven hits in seven-plus innings of work. He walked just one and struck out five. Cheppenko got the save with four strikeouts in two innings of work.
Robin Chute singled and scored twice, and drove in one to lead the Vermillion offense. Tyler Candor singled twice and drove in two. Brad Donovan singled and scored twice.
Mike Fisher singled twice and had one RBI to lead the Rattlers at the plate. Dalton Decker went the distance for Pierre, allowing six runs on seven hits, walking four and getting just one strikeout.
Vermillion left six men on base, while Pierre stranded eleven baserunners.
Red Sox 6-7-1
Pierre Rattlers 2-6-2
Chuck Benz, Kevin Cheppendo (8), and Tyler Candor Dalton Decker and Tyson Lindekugel
With the win, the Red Sox moved on to face the Brandon Valley Merchants on a sunny Saturday in Sioux Falls. The Red Sox would be the designated home team in this game.
Things started off poorly for Vermillion as the Merchants put up two runs right away. Jose Martine got a walk from Red Sox starter Brad Donovan, and moved to second on an error by Fischer at secondbase that allowed Jacob Pole to reach safely. Nick Bruning hit a fly to center that was tracked down by Cody Aughton, who fired it back to the infield. Martine moved to third, but Red Sox thirdbaseman Drew Benton saw Pole trying to tag up and go to second. Benton fired to second and Fischer tagged out Pole for the doubleplay.
Nate Alfson hit a two-out single that plated Martine. Next up was James Borges, who hit a deep fly to leftfield that Justin Beebe couldn't handle cleanly and that allowed another run to score to make it 2-0.
Vermillion got one run back in the bottom of the first as the Red Sox manufactured a run. Chute singled, moved to second on Hansen sacrifice bunt, then came home on a single by Candor, who tried to advance to second on the throw home but was tagged out at second. Vermilion trailed after one but just a 2-1 score, but that would be as close as they would get on this day.
The Merchants would get a two-out RBI single by Alfson in the top of the third that brought home Pole to make it 3-1. Donovan pitched out of a jam in the fourth, but Alfson drove in two on a single in the top of the fifth to make it 5-1.
Meanwhile the Vermillion bats were silenced by Brandon Valley starter Bryce Ahrendt, who recovered after giving up the early run. The Red Sox would not get a batter past second until the eighth inning.
Donovan continued to battle against the hot bats of Brandon Valley, but the Merchants continued to get clutch hits. In the top of the sixth Martine drove in Dan Morrison on a two-out single to make it 6-1.
But the biggest blow came in the top of the seventh. Nick Bruning led off by driving a shot over the head of Aughton to the deepest part of the park. It took a long bounce off the wall, and Bruning raced around the bases for an inside-the-park home run. Later in the inning, Cody Burgener would hit a double, then come home on an RBi single by Morrison. Heading into the bottom of the seventh, Brandon Valley was comfortably in front 8-1.
Vermillion failed to score in the bottom of the seventh. Mike Archer came on to pitch for the Red Sox, but the righty would only face four batters, giving up a single to Rob Smith, a double to Martine, and an RBI single to Pole before plunking Bruning with a pitch. Cheppenko came in to replace Archer and got Alfson to ground out to third, but a run scored on the play. Borges hit a triple to center that plated two runs to break the game wide open and make it 12-1.
But the Merchants were not done yet. Morrison would drive in his second run of the day on a sacrifice fly that plated Borges to make it 13-1. The disasterous inning would end for the Red Sox when Smith flied out to left.
Vermillion now had to score three runs in the bottom of the eighth in order to avoid the mercy rule. Brandon Mercado, a Legion player, came on to pitch for Brandon Valley. Kasey Neuman led off with a single, and Beebe slammed a double to put two runners in scoring position. After Chute flied out to short leftfield, Dan Hansen would reach on an error by Martine at third that brought home Neuman.
Vermillion still had life, with two runners in scoring position, and needing that second run to keep the game going, but Mercado got Candor to ground out to end the game at 13-2 after eight innings.
Ahrendt was stellar for the Merchants, going seven strong innings, allowing one run on two hits. The Brandon Valley righty walked two and struck out three. Donovan took the loss by going seven innings, surrendering eleven hits and eight runs while walking just two and striking out three.
Nate Alfson led the Brandon Valley attack with three singles and five RBIs on the day. Jacob Pole singled twice, doubled, and scored three times.
Vermillion would managed to get just four hits on the day. Robin Chute, Tyler Candor, and Kasey Neuman all singled, and Justin Beebe hit a double.
Brandon Valley would strand eight base runners, while the Red Sox stranded four on base.
BV Merchants 13-15-1
Red Sox 2-4-3
Bryce Ahrendt, Brandon Mercado (8), and Nate Alfson Brad Donovan, Mike Archer (8), Kevin Cheppenko (8), and Kasey Neuman
Brandon Valley would go on to win the state championship over Renner on Sunday afternoon.