Vermillion Post 1 won three dramatic games by one run each before losing to Brookings Saturday night in a game in which a victory would have sent Vermillion on to the Lewis & Clark tournament semifinals on Sunday as champion of the Prentis Park bracket.
As it was, Post 1 almost made it as the wild card team along with the champions of the Vermillion, Yankton and Hartington brackets. Tied with Sioux Falls West with 3-1 records after two days of play, the tie-breaker came down to runs allowed in a team's four games. West had allowed 12 and Vermillion 13, a fact which left Post 1 out in the cold so far as Sunday's play is concerned and allowed West to sneak in.
Vermillion's record of 3-1 in the tournament improved the season record to 4-3, heading into a game at Beresford last night (Thursday).
Beginning today (Friday) and over the weekend, Post 1 will be involved in the huge and potent Milt Simons tournament in Sioux Falls, then will also have games at Dakota Valley Monday (the flood situation permitting) and at Harrisburg Tuesday.
Friday's play at the Milt Simons will pit Vermillion against Elkhorn, Neb., at 1 p.m. and against Fike, Mo., at 6 p.m. On Saturday Vermillion's games are at 11 a.m. against Omaha Ralston and 3 p.m. against Rod's A's from Missouri. Championship play for the teams which qualify is set for Sunday.
Brookings 4, Post 1 – 0
On almost any other night, a game like the one Chayse Meierkort pitched Saturday would have earned him a victory—5+ innings pitched, two hits and two runs allowed, and eight strikeouts along with five walks. But against Brookings to determine which team would advance to the tourney's final day, Post 1 batters themselves could muster only three hits and were struck out 11 times out of 21 outs by the Bandits' righthander, Marcus Daniel.
Add those facts to the hard truth that Brookings didn't have to work very hard to gets its four runs. Post 1 gift-wrapped all four of them.
In the first inning with two out, an inning-ending fly ball was misplayed into a double off the bat of Landon Busch, and he advanced to score on a passed ball and a wild pitch.
In the third a leadoff walk to Sam Froehlich was followed by his stolen base, an infield out and a wild pitch just before Meierkort struck out the inning's final batter. Finally in the sixth Brookings incurred some breathing room beyond its 2-0 lead. A walk, a wild pitch, a stolen base, a three-base throwing error and another infield error made it 4-0. Sad to say, a hit was not involved in any of Brookings' last three runs.
Meanwhile, Daniel kept the Post 1 offense in check although Vermillion had some chances. A runner reached third in the third inning and couldn't score. Vermillion had men on first and second with nobody out in the fourth and couldn't score as well as at first and second with one out in the fifth and couldn't score. That's because at that point Daniel went crazy, striking out the final two batters in the fifth, all three men he faced in the sixth and two of the three Vermillion batters he put down in the seventh.
Vermillion's three hits were singles by D'Andre Fore, Jason Rasmussen and Caleb Miller. Besides Busch's double, Daniel and Kelby Beste each had a single for the other two Bandit hits.
Daniel walked only one while striking out 11 and allowing those three Post 1 hits.
Post 1 – 3, Blair 2
Bound and determined to keep fans entertained, Post 1 for the third straight game found itself involved in high drama in the final inning, and for the third straight time the home boys prevailed.
RBI hits by Nate Garrett and D'Andre Fore in the second inning lifted Vermillion to a 2-1 lead over the Nebraskans, a lead they would never relinquish. In the fourth Post 1 made it 3-1, thanks to a leadoff single by Stormy Mirtz, a balk, a bunt that turned into an infield hit by Caleb Miller, and Fore's RBI single. Blair pitcher Trevor O'Dell escaped further damage, retiring Post 1 with the bases full.
Vermillion starter Nick Anglin cruised through six innings, giving up only two Blair hits. In the top of the final stanza, a double, a walk and a bunt single produced one Blair run. A two-out sacrifice put the tying run at third base and the lead run at second, but a ground ball to third-baseman Mirtz was vacuumed up cleanly, and he threw out the batter to end the game. Anglin got his win allowing only four hits, two earned runs and four walks while fanning three. Meanwhile, O'Dell struck out one, walked three, and gave up seven Post 1 hits, two of them apiece by Fore and Mirtz.
Post 1 – 3, Groton 2
On two successive batters in Groton's top of the seventh inning Friday night, Post 1 hurler Nate Garrett was within one strike of a complete-game shutout. Though the visitors temporarily escaped by scoring twice to tie the game at 2-2, Vermillion, with a little help from Groton pitching, won the game dramatically in the bottom of the seventh.
After Scott Iverson had singled, Tyler Husby had walked and Zach McDonald had sacrificed them into scoring position, a two-run double by Stormy Mirtz early in the game was all the offense Garrett needed until the very end. He allowed only two Groton hits through five innings. Groton got two two-out hits in the sixth, but Garrett fanned the next Groton batter to end that threat.
In its half of the sixth Post 1 loaded the bases with one out but couldn't score. Though Groton led off its seventh with a double, Garrett on a strikeout and an outfield fly got two of the three outs he needed. But a walk and two singles tied the game, setting the stage for Vermillion's own drama.
Groton starter Austin Fordham started to dig his own grave by walking leadoff man Nick Anglin, With one out D'Andre Fore, attempting to sacrifice pinch runner Bob Osterberg over to second, instead beat out his bunt for a hit. When reliever Jamie Jorgenson hit Jason Rasmussen with a pitch, the sacks were jammed with one out, and Vermillion was in business.
A force play at the plate was the second out, but Scott Iverson worked a bases-loaded walk, the fourth ball coming one pitch after Groton was sure it had Iverson struck out.
Garrett's seven-inning tenure on the mound saw him strike out five, walk only two and allow seven hits, five of them in the last two frantic innings. Fordham kept his team in the game by restricting Post 1 to only the two runs on Mirtz' big hit and only five hits through six innings till trouble arrived in the bottom of the seventh.
Six different men had one hit each among Vermillion's six base knocks. Matt Thorson had two of Groton's seven hits.
Post 1 – 6, Mitchell 5
Twice as the opening game of the Lewis & Clark Wood Bat Classic progressed, Mitchell answered Vermillion challenges by matching runs Post 1 had scored. When they loaded the bases with one out in the top of the seventh, already leading 5-3, Mitchell was ready to blow the game open. But reliever Nick Anglin struck out one batter, and third baseman Stormy Mirtz scooped up a ground ball to throw out the next, and Mitchell had left the sacks full.
Post 1, needing two to tie and three to win, began a spine-tingling game-winning rally when Zach McDonald coaxed a leadoff walk off Mitchell ace Nick Young. Young got a strikeout, but Anglin's single put the tying runs aboard. Nobody successfully bunts as often as Post 1 does, and Nate Garrett accomplished it at this moment, moving the two runners into scoring position but with two out.
D'Andre Fore was down to his and his team's last strike, but he slugged a double to tie the game. A victory was in the cards, and all that was needed was a hit from Jason Rasmussen. The veteran shortstop obliged, slashing a line drive to left field, scoring Fore and handing Mitchell a sudden, stunning defeat.
Young was nearly unhittable in the early going. He struck out five in a row at one point early on.
Vermillion got its first run when Rasmussen singled, stole second, kept going to third on Young's failed pickoff move and scored on Tyler Husby's sacrifice fly. Mitchell answered with a run in its fifth to lead again by two, 3-1.
Mirtz's leadoff double and a hit batter set up Garrett with an earlier sacrifice opportunity, and he came through that time, too, moving the runners into scoring position. One scored on Fore's infield out, and a wild pitch plated the other to the the game at 3-3.
Mitchell again had an answer, scoring twice to go ahead, 5-3, in the sixth on two walks and a two-run double by Collin Moen.
Fore drove in three of Vermillion's six runs, and Rasmussen had two of the team's six hits. Zach Bennett had two of Mitchell's five hits.
Starter Husby struck out two, walked seven and allowed four hits and three earned runs in his six innings. Young finished with 10 strikeouts, walked only two and had allowed only three Vermillion hits till the fateful bottom of the seventh when he gave up three more to lose the game.