Tanager baseball season nearly done

Home games Sunday and Tuesday will conclude the regular season for the Vermillion High School baseball team before regional tournament play commences the following weekend.

The Tanagers will be home in Prentis Park on Sunday against Corsica.  The varsity game starts at 1:30 p.m. with the JVs to follow.  Then on Tuesday an earlier postponed game against Beresford will be made up in Vermillion with the varsity game's first pitch coming down at 5:30 p.m. and a JV game slated for later.

After two weeks of four weather-related cancellations, the Tanagers finally were able to play at Wagner last Thursday.  They had a 6-2 lead at one point, but an error-filled sixth inning turned the night around.  Wagner won the game, 10-8.  Then on Sunday a short-handed Tanager crew went all the way to Mount Vernon and took it on the chin there as well.

With all seniors benched for the night, the Tanagers hosted Dakota Valley, a squad they demolished 21-2 a month earlier, Tuesday night at Prentis Park.  The young lineup held its own, and the game was still tied at 1-1 into the final inning, but the Panthers came up with a three-run top of the seventh to win the varsity game, 4-1.

Starter Nate Garrett did his job, throwing six full innings of two-hit baseball, striking out three and walking three.  A towering Chayse Meierkort home run in the first inning into the left-field trees had given VHS a 1-0 lead.  Dakota Valley got it tied in the fourth on an infield out, two stolen bases, and a timely single by poitcher Michael Rennerfelt.

Garrett got out of that inning with the lead run stranded at third.  He and his defense wiggled out of two more jams in the subsequent two innings.  In the fifth two walks gave Dakota Valley a good start to a threat, but an infield grounder, a crucial strikeout and a tough foul-ball catch by first-baseman Caleb Miller prevented any scoring.

In the sixth a leadoff double by the Panthers was wasted when Garrett coaxed an infield ground ball to shortstop Tanner Settles and then a pair of pop-ups to third-baseman Stormy Mirtz.

Meanwhile, the Tanagers stranded five men in the fourth, fifth and sixth innings.

Garrett gave way to reliever Collin Bertram in the seventh.  He got the first batter when left-fielder Jayce Huska made a long run to snag a potential basehit that was curving away from him down the foul line.  A walk and a single put Panthers at the corners, but Bertram got the second out when a DV batter bunted foul off his own body for a strikeout.

The Tanagers appeared to have escaped again when it appeared a fly ball to right field was going to be caught to end the inning, but it was misjudged into a two-run double.  Dakota Valley followed with another double for a three-run lead.

Two one-out walks in their final at-bat gave the Tanagers a shot, but an infield force play and a pop-up to third ended the game.

Meierkort, Mirtz, Miller and Bertram each had one hit off Rennerfelt, who struck out one and walked three in his six innings.  Reliever Aaron Likness pitched the seventh to save it for the Panthers.  The loss left the Tanagers at 3-6 heading into a Thursday night game against Bon Homme in Tabor.

Vermillion won the JV game, 15-0, in five innings as Joe Mazour whitewashed Dakota Valley.

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