Beresford baseball has recently, in the eyes of Vermillion teams, become a pain in the neck, ending both the Vermillion high school and Legion seasons last year and beating the Tanagers in high school ball last month.
For at least a few days, however, Vermillion has some bragging rights as the VHS team frustrated Beresford pitchers and shut down their big batters in a satisfying 11-5 Tanager win that ended the regular season.
The Region 1B eastern division semifinals will be played early next week, and the Tanagers know they will be the third seed, meaning an away game at either Bon Homme or Beresford. Fourth-seed Dakota Valley will travel to the top seed's home field. Late in the week the two winners will clash for the right to advance to the regional title game against the western division's champion.
Against Beresford on Tuesday, the Tanagers rode the arm of pitcher Collin Bertram, who gave his team 6 1/3 strong innings, allowing six hits but only one earned run, striking out six and walking one. Against Beresford's bombers in the 3-4-5-6 batting slots, Bertram permitted only one hit among 12 at-bats.
Trailing 1-0, Vermillion came alive with a scintillating three-run second inning. A single by Stormy Mirtz, a walk by Zach McDonald, an RBI double by Tanner Anderson, and a two-run single by Tanner Settles made it 3-1.
The VHS defense briefly fell apart in the top of the third, giving the lead right back to Beresford. The Tanagers committed four errors within a span of three consecutive batters before settling down. The Watchdogs' 4-3 lead was short-lived, however.
Solid hits in the bottom of the third included a leadoff double by Scott Iverson, a walk earned by Tyler Husby, a clutch two-run double into the right-field corner by Caleb Miller, a single by McDonald, two Watchdog errors, and a run-scoring double by D'Andre Fore made it a five-run inning for an 8-4 lead.
An Anderson hit in the fourth made it 9-4. In the sixth an infield grounder off Anderson's bat brought home another run as did a catcher's throwing error by Beresford.
Bertram had retired the 'Dogs in order in the fourth. A crucial double play from center fielder Fore to shortstop Settles to third-baseman Mirtz ended a Beresford threat in the fifth. Bertram cruised through the sixth, but in the seventh and final inning he tired, loading the bases on a double, a single and a walk. Reliever Nate Garrett allowed a single by the first man he faced, making the score 11-5, but with the sacks still jammed, he pitched a double-play ball that went from Anderson to Settles to McDonald to end the game.
Beresford starter Chris Mohr was kayoed in the three-run second. Matt Hoines didn't make it through the five-run third. Second reliever Dan Frieberg went the rest of the way. The Watchdog hurlers walked eight and allowed 11 hits, retiring the Tanagers in order only once.
Settles, Miller and Anderson had two hits apiece among those 11 base knocks, and those same three men drove in two runs each.
Madison Landeen and Colin Peterson had two hits each among Beresford's seven, but the 'Dogs had only four until the final inning.
The Tanager JVs took a 7-6 lead into their fifth and final inning behind hurler Nile Morecraft. Beresford tied the game, sending it to an extra sixth stanza. Morecraft got into a bases-loaded, one-out jam but weasled out of it when Caleb Miller at first base caught a foul pop-up and Morecraft himself made the play on a comebacker to keep the game tied.
Three minutes later Miller and Morecraft ended it with an 8-7 Tanager win. Miller was hit with a pitch, stole second uncontestedly and scored on Morecraft's solid smash to right field.
Corsica 15, VHS 13
Runs, hits and errors were as common as wind gusts and blowing dirt at Prentis Park Sunday as Vermillion and Corsica/Stickney/Armour/Plankinton (CSAP) took turns losing leads in a game that extended into two extra innings. In the end, the visitors, known as The Express, won 15-13 in nine innings.
The Tanagers trailed 6-0 after 2 1/2 innings, had a seven-run third to lead 7-6, trailed 10-7, led 12-10, trailed 13-12 and tied the game at the last possible instant in the bottom of the seventh at 13-13 but couldn't score in extra innings.
Of Vermillion's 11 hits, D'Andre Fore had three singles and Scott Iverson two while Fore and Collin Bertram each drove in a pair of tallies. Among CSAP's 20 hits Adam Fink, who caught, played shortstop and won the game as a relief pitcher, had four hits and two RBIs while four other players—Luke Bamberg, Aaron Greenway, Kris Manning and Zach Milligen, the Nos. 3 through 6 men in the Express' rugged batting order—each had three hits.
A monstrous two-run homer by starting pitcher Greenway in the top of the first propelled the Express to a 4-0 lead in that inning. Single runs in the next two innings made it 6-0 until 10 consecutive Tanager players did their job in the bottom of the third.
Bertram led off with a walk, and Coach Jason Gault's strategy to try to peck away at the 6-0 deficit paid huge dividends. Tanner Anderson's sacrifice bunt was followed by a clutch Fore hit. Tanner Settles also bunted successfully, and Chayse Meierkort followed with a ringing double. Scott Iverson reached base by getting hit with a pitch, and Tyler Husby laced a double. Stormy Mirtz and Caleb Miller followed with singles. Then Bertram, the tenth batter of the inning, uncorked a two-run double to lift the Tanagers to a 7-6 lead.
CSAP immediately regained the lead with a four-run, five-hit, two-error top of the fourth that brought in Nate Garrett in relief of starter Husby.
Down by 10-7, Vermillion sent nine men to the plate in the fifth to go back ahead 12-10. Three Express errors helped the cause. Iverson and Fore had hits in the inning sandwiched around a hit batter, two walks and those three miscues.
CSAP drew within 12-11 in the top of the sixth, and Garrett gave way to Bobby Osterberg, who entered the game with two on and two out and immediately got the third out on a comebacker to his own glove.
Bamberg's leadoff homerun tied the game at 12-12 to start the seventh, and the Express scored the lead run on an infield force play, two costly errors and a wild pitch.
The Tanagers were down to their last strike in the bottom of the seventh with Anderson, who had led off the inning with a hit, on third base but with two out. Facing an 0-2 pitch Meierkort laced a grass-cutting laser to shortstop where Bamberg let it go through his legs. Anderson scored, and the game went to extra innings.
Osterberg, who had fanned two CSAP batters to end the seventh, struck out two more in the eighth and caught a pop-up himself, but his own team went in order in the bottom of the inning.
Finally in the top of the ninth a hit batter, a single, a double steal and a double by Milligen gave CSAP all the runs it would need. Fink finished off the Tanagers in the bottom of the ninth with a pair of strikeouts although Fore did give VHS a chance with a two-out hit that brought the tying run to the plate.
The Vermillion JVs, despite being outhit 12-5, won their game over CSAP, 10-4 with Joe Mazour going the distance for the pitching victory.
Last Thursday the Tanagers got his first-ever home run from Stormy Mirtz, a line-drive laser over the left-field fence, but it wasn't enough as a big inning late in the game lifted Bon Homme to a win at Tabor.