Vermillion's starting pitcher Nile Morecraft threw five scoreless innings of one-hit baseball while his teammates were building up a 6-0 lead at Dakota Valley Saturday. The Tanagers went on to win 9-3 in a non-league high school game and improve their season's record to 2-1.
VHS drew first blood with a two-run third inning. Tanner Settles' double scored D'Andre Fore, who had reached base on an error. Following a Chayse Meierkort single, Tanner Anderson's infield grounder produced the second Tanager tally.
Their own "small ball" talents and some help from a shaky Dakota Valley infield allowed the Tanagers to break open the game with a four-run fifth. It began with Nate Garrett bunting for a basehit and Fore reaching base when his bunted ball was misplayed by the Panther pitcher. Settles' sacrifice bunt moved the runners along, setting the table for Meierkort.
The Tanager catcher singled to score a run, and Anderson followed with an RBI single of his own. Meierkort scored from third on defensive indifference as the Panthers tried to nab Anderson on a successful steal of second base. A passed ball handed VHS its fourth run of the inning.
Dakota Valley posted a single run in the sixth on a walk by reliever Joe Mazour, an infield throwing error and a single, but Mazour retired the Panthers with two runners in scoring position.
Just for good measure, Vermillion added three insurance runs in the top of the seventh. Walks to Huska and Meierkort and Anderson's basehit bunt loaded the sacks. A one-out sacrifice fly by Caleb Miller scored the first run of the inning. After a passed ball advanced two runners, Mazour singled them both home.
The Panthers roughed up Mazour for three straight hits, including a two-run single, in the bottom of the seventh to creep to within 9-3, but Collin Bertram came in to get the final two outs on strikeouts to end the game.
Morecraft struck out two and walked only one while allowing a single hit to pick up the pitching win.
Of the Tanagers' eight hits Meierkort and Anderson had two apiece, and Anderson and Mazour drove in two runs each.
The Vermillion JVs won their season opener at Dakota Valley, 14-1.
The Tanagers face three games in five days starting tonight (Friday) with a 5 p.m. varsity game at Sergeant Bluff-Luton. On Saturday VHS goes to Beresford for a varsity tilt at 5 and a JV contest to follow. On Tuesday the Tanagers play at Yankton in a 5 p.m. varsity game, followed by a JV game at 7.