After being outscored 37-8 in their first three games of the Milt Simons tournament at Sioux Falls last weekend, Vermillion Post 1 needed a pick-me-up to get their season back on track and put the memory of those defeats at the hands of all-star caliber teams from Nebraska and Missouri behind them.
The revival occurred Saturday night in Post 1's fourth and final game of the tournament. Batting as the visiting team for the first time in four games, Vermillion grabbed a surprised Rod's Sports A's team from suburban Kansas City by the throat from the very beginning and didn't let go. Aggressively attacking with their bats, cleaning up their defensive act and buoyed by Nate Garrett's pitching gem, the Post 1 team throttled the team from Blue Springs, MO, 9-2, to come home from the tournament with pride in themselves restored.
The A's team, composed of all-stars picked from among hundreds who tried out for their ballclub, saw Vermillion get a fast 1-0 lead when Jason Rasmussen cracked a sharp single, went to second on Chayse Meierkort's infield grounder, was wild-pitched to third and scored on an RBI single by Stormy Mirtz.
The Missouri club, on two singles and a walk, had a bases-loaded threat going with one out in the bottom of the first, ready to pounce on starter Garrett and begin doing what three previous opponents had done to Vermillion. But not so fast! Garrett got Corbin Hare to pop out to second-baseman Mirtz, and then Fore got on his horse in center field and made a spectacular inning-ending diving catch to prevent any runs from scoring and setting the tone for the rest of the game.
Three times Coach Jason Gault ordered his batters to sacrifice bunt, and three times they did so successfully. The first was by Caleb Miller in the second after Tyler Husby had led off with a single. Nick Anglin's single moved him to third, and a force-out at second on Fore's grounder allowed Husby to score. Fore himself crossed the plate seconds later on a booming double by Rasmussen.
Zach McDonald's walk started the game-breaking top of the third. Mirtz successfully sacrificed him to second. A strike out recorded the inning's second out, but before Post 1 could be retired, the next six batters reached base, starting with a key infield error at third base on Husby's laser shot. A single by Miller, a double by Anglin, a single by Fore, a walk to Rasmussen and a bases-loaded walk to Meierkort put Vermillion up 7-0.
After the A's had stranded five men in the first two innings, they put together a pair of lead-off hits in the bottom of the third to crawl to within 7-1, but after an error behind him in his infield, Garrett remained calm, getting a strikeout and a grounder to Rasmussen to end the brief uprising.
A leadoff hit by Mirtz and another sacrifice bunt, this one by Scott Iverson, set the table for RBI singles by Husby and Anglin in the fifth to increase Vermillion's margin to 9-1. The Missouri team got one back in the bottom of the fourth, but it would be their last. Garrett closed the inning with a called third strike.
Though his team would score no more, Garrett needed no more offensive support. As the innings wore on, he got stronger. The right-hander successfully threw numerous first-pitch strikes, getting the jump on A's batters. He beautifully painted the inside corner of the plate with his curve balls frustrating would-be A's hitters, and he kept them constantly in the hole with 1-2 and 2-2 counts against them.
Garrett retired the A's in order in the fifth, ending with another called third strike. He started the sixth with a strikeout, and after hitting one batter, ended the inning yet again with a called third strike.
Entering the final half-inning, the A's would have to score seven to tie. They didn't even get a rally started. Left-fielder Husby saw to that with a diving catch to snare a fast-falling Texas League blooper for the first out. A hot line drive was pulled out of the air by Rasmussen at shortstop for the second out, and all that remained was an easy grounder to Mirtz at second base to salt away a very sweet win.
Garrett, who retired 10 of the last 11 batters he faced, struck out six, walked only one and allowed only five hits, none after the fourth inning. Meanwhile, Vermillion punched eight hits off starter Brett Barbeck and six more off reliever Kyle Roberts, who pitched the final 4 1/3 frames for the Blue Springs team. Anglin had three of the team's 14 hits while Rasmussen, Meierkokrt, Mirtz and Husby had two hits each, and Miller, McDonald and Fore had one each. Seven different men drove in runs for Post 1, including Anglin with two RBIs.
Elkhorn 10, Post 1 – 2
Four batters into the Milt Simons tournament opener, Post 1 was already behind by 3-0, and it was 9-0 after 1 1/2 innings, so Vermillion never had a real shot at getting back into this one. They tried, however, managing enough baserunners against Elkhorn hurler Sam Moore to strand eight men through four innings.
Elkhorn scored three times in the first inning on three solid hits off starter Nick Anglin, a walk and a sacrifice fly. To start the second inning the Nebraskans had three straight infield hits, the total combined distance of which wouldn't have reached first base, but they nevertheless loaded the bases. Before the inning was over, they had a sacrifice fly, a walk and three more shots for basehits to score six times.
Anglin faced the minimum of six men through the third and fourth innings as things settled down. Elkhorn added a single run in the fifth.
Vermillion's first run came when Zach McDonald slammed a long double to the left-field wall, and at Harmodon Park's No. 1 field, that is a long distance. McDonald advanced to third on Caleb Miller's infield out and scored on a ground ball off D'Andre Fore's bat.
Fore also drove home Post 1's other run in the fourth. Nate Garrett reached on a two-base throwing error in the infield and scored on Fore's single.
Anglin gave up 11 hits, walked two and struck out three. Vermillion had six hits, including two each by Fore and Jason Rasmussen.
The Elkhorn team went on to become one of the four teams earning semifinal berths for Sunday's championship play.
Fike 10, Post 1 – 2
On Friday night Vermillion, after Fike, Mo., had taken a 1-0 lead, answered in the bottom of the second with two runs to take its first lead of the day, 2-1. Zach McDonald walked, Stormy Mirtz singled, and Tyler Husby sacrificed them along, setting the table for Scott Iverson to drive in both runners with a line drive that passed over the first-base bag on its way to the right-field corner.
But Fike responded with two runs in the third and then continued to pound the ball all over the vast expanse of the Harmodon Park outfield. The Missouri club continued with two runs in the fourth and five in the fifth.
Of their 10 hits off Tyler Husby, only one was a single. The rest were five triples and four doubles. Five infield errors compounded Post 1's disadvantage.
Vermillion's six hits were all singles, one each by D'Andre Fore, Chayse Meierkort, Mirtz, Husby, Iverson and Caleb Miller.
Husby struck out one and walked two while Fike starter Jordan Oddo fanned four and walked one.
Ralston 17, Post 1 – 4
Two hit batters, a walk, an infield error, and four hits meant a disastrous start for Post 1 against a Ralston team from the Omaha area. Six runs in the first and one in the second gave the Nebraskans a 7-0 lead.
To their credit, the Post 1 boys staged a rally of their own, trimming their deficit to 7-4 in the bottom of the second. Scott Iverson reached on an infield error, and Tyler Husby singled. The rally appeared to be dying when the next two batters struck out, but D'Andre Fore came through with an RBI single, and Jason Rasmussen laced a double to the gap in left-center to score a pair. Chayse Meierkort's double plated Rasmussen.
Vermillion came so close to retiring Ralston without any damage in the third. With two men on base, an outfield fly that would have been in the third out was dropped, and before it was over, the score was up to 10-4.
The game got totally away in a seven-run fourth, capped off by a grand slam homer by Ralston pitcher Tyler Cook. The game ended after five innings.
Starter Meierkort went 2 2/3 innings, and Bob Osterberg threw the final 2 1/3. Ralston got 12 hits, six off each of the two hurlers. Meanwhile, Cook, while allowing nine Vermillion hits, gave up no earned runs while walking none and fanning four.
Meierkort had three of Post 1's nine hits, Fore and Rasmussen two each, and Husby and Nate Garrett one apiece. Cook had six runs batted in for Ralston.
Vermillion pitchers may be seeing opposing batters racing around the bases for triples for many nights to come. Ralston had three triples among its dozen hits.
Post 1 – 13, Dakota Valley 1
Monday night's return to regular-season play was a seven-inning cakewalk for Post 1, winning at Dakota Valley 13-1. Nick Anglin secured the pitching victory, striking out five.
Jason Rasmussen and Zach McDonald were hitting stars for Vermillion. Rasmussen went 4-for-4, and among his hits were a home run and two doubles. McDonald also doubled twice in a 3-for-4 performance.
Post 1 is scheduled to participate in the Lennox Border Classic this weekend and play a regular-season game also at Lennox next Tuesday.