An exhilarating come-from-behind win in the bottom of the seventh and final inning against Parkston at Prentis Park Monday night was just what the doctor ordered for Vermillion High's baseball team after three tough losses within five days.
The Tanagers were trailing 5-4 and down to their last out when Collin Bertram coaxed a walk off Parkston pitching to keep VHS alive. Tanner Anderson singled up the middle, and suddenly the tying and winning runs were on base.
With D'Andre Fore at the plate, a wild pitch advanced the runners into scoring position. Fore slashed a red-hot clothesliner of a hit to the shortstop. He got a glove on the ball but couldn't catch it, and the ball careened into left field. Bertram scored easily from third to tie the game, and the fleet-footed Anderson squeezed beneath a late tag at the plate to end the game victoriously.
Until Fore came through in the clutch, the Tanagers had stranded 10 runners on base. But they had stayed in the game thanks to strong pitching. Starter Chayse Meierkort didn't get a decision but threw a great game, striking out seven, walking three, and allowing three hits. Niles Morecraft came in as a reliever and got VHS out of a jam in the fifth. Then Bertram took over and kept Parkston bats quiet, allowing one run in two innings.
Anderson and Tanner Settles each had two hits to pace the VHS offense.
"Parkston was a solid team, and this was certainly a big regional win for the Tanagers," Coach Jason Gault stated.
Last Wednesday the Tanagers lost on the road to Beresford, the team that knocked Vermillion out of both high school and Legion playoffs last year, 5-1. Tyler Husby pitched well for the Tanagers, but his team's offense couldn't support him, stranding eight runners.
Defensively the Tanagers committed a pair of big errors that allowed two unearned runs.
Fore, Settles, Meierkort, Anderson and Stormy Mirtz each had one hit, and Meierkort scored the only Vermillion run.
"We played them pretty well," Gault said, "but it is going to take a flawless game from us to compete with them."
It was more of the same in the home opener against Yankton Friday. The Tanagers left 12 men on base and could never get into the game once the Bucks scored eight first-inning runs.
Nate Garrett took the pitching loss. Meierkort threw an inning and Bertram two innings in relief. Fore went 3-for-4 at the plate with a double, and Scott Iverson had a 2-for-3 night.
On Sunday in another battle of regional opponents, the Tanagers were tied with Bon Homme 3-3 in the fifth. Again they had several opportunities to score but couldn't get timely hitting.
Husby threw another pitching gem, giving up only three earned runs. Robert Osterberg came on in relief and did a nice job of throwing strikes. But at the same time Bon Homme's pitcher, Kortan, allowed only four VHS hits, and his defense was strong behind him. Settles, Zach McDonald, Mirtz and Bertram had the four VHS base knocks.
The Tanager schedule calls for a pair of junior varsity games at Dakota Valley Saturday morning, then a date at Lennox on Sunday afternoon with the varsity game at 2 p.m. and the JVs to follow. Next Wednesday VHS plays at Canton at 5:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.