The Vermillion Red Sox split a couple of one-run decisions over the weekend in the double-elimation format of the State "A" Amateur Baseball Tournament to advance to the second weekend of action.
The first two games were played in Yankton at Riverside Field. On Friday night the Red Sox slipped by the Rapid City A's 1-0.
The story of this game was the terrific pitching of Chuck Benz for the Red Sox and J.R. Krogstad for the A's.
Both started off strong. Benz did allow a double in the third to Parks Brigman with two outs, but then fanned Allen McMillan to end the inning.
Krogstad got help from his catcher Wade Huntington, who threw out three Red Sox trying to stealing second in the first five innings.
The best chance for the A's to score happened in the top of the sixth inning. Brigman led off with a single, and was moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by McMillan. Benz got the next batter, Beau Garcia, to pop out to third, but walked Daryl Deneke to put two runners on. Dave Powers hit a grounder to short that was bobbled by Robin Chute, but Brigman tried to go home on the play, and the alert Chute fired to catcher Kasey Neuman who tagged out Brigman to retire the side.
The Red Sox finally broke through in the bottom of the seventh as Tyler Candor led off with with a walk. Krogstad, facing DH Colby Lessman, uncorked a wild pitch that eventually bounced into the Red Sox dugout. Candor advanced to third on the play as he was awarded the extra base when the ball went into the dugout. Lessman drove a ball deep into rightfield that was caught by Powers, and Candor scored on the sacrifice fly. The Red Sox now led 1-0.
The Sox did load the bases on a couple of walks and an infield single by Justin Beebe, but Krogstad retired Aaron Fischer on a popup to first to end the threat.
It was now up to Benz to hold the lead. The righthander retired the side in order in the top of the eighth. The Red Sox could not score in the bottom of the eighth as the A's turned a doubleplay after a liner by Lessman back up the middle glanced off the glove of Krogman and bounced to shortstop Brigman, who started the twin-killing. Had not Krogstad not got his glove up to deflect the ball, it would have likely gone through for a single with runners on first and second.
Benz retired the first two A's in the top of the ninth, but then got into trouble. Benz walked the next two batters on eight pitches, then plunked Jake Zoodsma to load the bases. Next up was Josh Hale, the number nine hitter in the A's lineup who had fanned three times in three at-bats. Benz rose to the occasion and struck out Hale for a fourth time to end the game.
Benz struck out 13 batters on the night while allowing just three hits and five walks. Krogstad went the distance as well, surrendering just three hits while walking seven and striking out four. The A's left nine men on base, while the Red Sox stranded six baserunners.
Rapid City A's 0-3-1
Red Sox 1-3-0
J.R. Krogstad and Wade Huntington
Chuck Benz and Kasey Neuman
With the win, the Red Sox advanced to the second weekend no matter what would happen in the second game they would play on Saturday afternoon versus the Brookings Cubbys.
With breezy conditions and bright sunshine on Saturday at Riverside Park, pitching would again dominate as the wind was blowing in.
It would be the Cubbys striking first. With two outs in the top of the first, Brian Scherschligt would double, then advance to third on an error by Red Sox thirdbaseman Drew Benton that allowed Erik DeJong to reach. John Tadlock singled to plate Scherschligt to score. Red Sox starter Brad Donovan would strike out Mike Murdy to keep the score at 1-0.
The Red Sox got a couple of runners on in the bottom of the first, but failed to score. In the top of the second the Cubbys would strike again as Todd Standish beat out a bunt for a single to lead off. Mark Schoenaman would bunt Standish over to second. Donovan would plunk Jimmy May with a pitch to put two runners on. Next up was Jamison Peterson, who singled to bring home Standish and make it 2-0.
But the Cubbys were not done. Chris Brown was up next, and he reached on a fielder's choice which erased Peterson at second, but in trying to turn the doubleplay the Sox threw the ball errantly to first and that allowed May to score on the error. Donovan struck out Schersclight to end the inning with Brookings up 3-0.
Vermillion would get a run back in the bottom of the second. Drew Benton led off with a walk, and was followed by Neuman who also walked. After two popups, Robin Chute walked to load the bases. Dan Hansen singled to rightfield to bring home Benton. Brookings starting pitcher Chris Miles would strike out Tyler Candor to end the inning with the bases loaded.
For Vermillion, it would be an omen of things to come.
Both teams would get two runners on in the third inning but fail to score. Miles would be done after just three innings on the mound.
Vermillion drew closer in the bottom of the fifth against reliever Brett Young as Candor and Lessman would both single to start things off. Cody Aughton nearly beat out a bunt to move both runners into scoring position. But Benton would pop out for the second out. Kasey Neuman hit an infield single that brought home Candor, but Young would fan Justin Beebe to end another scoring opportunity for the Red Sox, who trailed 3-2.
Brad Donovan would continue to work his way out of jams, holding the Cubbys at just three runs. Both teams were looking for that big hit with runners on base.
The last best chance for Vemillion happened in the bottom of the eighth. With one out Neuman doubled, but pinchhitter Mike Archer, a pickup player from the Sioux Falls Saints, grounded out to third, keeping Neuman at second base. Aaron Fischer drew a walk to put the go-ahead run on base, and the top of the order coming up in Robin Chute. But Young would get Chute to ground out to third to retire the side.
Donovan set down the Cubbys 1-2-3 in the top of the ninth, the only time on the day he would do so, keeping the deficit at just one run.
Young would get Hansen to ground out back to the box for the first out before Candor singled to put the tying run on base. Lessman hit a hard grounder, but right at Brookings shortstop Chris Brown, who started a doubleplay that ended the game.
For the Red Sox, it was a game of missed opportunities. They stranded eleven men on base, seven in scoring position. The Cubbys would leave 13 men on base.
Donovan went the distance for Vermillion, allowing nine hits and just one walk while striking out six. Brett Young got the win by giving up four hits and one run in six innings of relief. Young struck out two and did not walk a batter.
Dan Hansen, Kasey Neuman, and Tyler Candor each collected two hits for Vermillion. Jamison Peterson singled three times for Brookings, while Todd Standish singled twice for the Cubbys.
Brookings Cubbys 3-9-2
Red Sox 2-6-4
Chris Miles, Brett Young (4), and Mike Murdy
Brad Donovan and Kasey Neuman
Brookings beat Brandon Valley the previous night 5-1, so the Cubbys go into the second weekend 2-0. Brandon Valley eliminated the Rapid City A's on Sunday, so they like the Red Sox go into the second weekend 1-1. All teams await the results from action on Saturday night and Sunday to determine their next opponents.
Action will move to Sioux Falls for the next round, which will start on Thursday.