The Tanagers bunched their hits strategically and took advantage of Dakota Valley's shaky infield play to win their home opener Monday night at Prentis Park, 7-1.
The victory improved Vermillion's high school baseball record to an overall 6-3. More importantly, the Tanagers stand at 3-0 in games which count toward Region 1B-East seeding with seven games to go.
Other teams in Region 1B-East and their records as of last Sunday are Beresford/Centerville 2-1, Bon Homme/Scotland 1-1 and Dakota Valley 1-4. In Region 1B-West the four teams and their records as of April 15 are Mount Vernon/Plankinton/Woonsocket 3-2, Corsica/Stickney/Armour 2-2, Parkston 1-2 and Wagner/Avon/Lake Andes 1-3.
The Tanagers' 10-game regional schedule includes two games each with 1B-East opponents and one game each with 1B-West foes.
VHS starter Collin Bertram picked up Monday's win, throwing 4 2/3 innings. With his pitch count at 90 on a cold evening, Bertram left the game with two on and two out, leading only 3-1.
Nate Garrett came in in relief and was perfect the rest of the way. He ended the Dakota Valley threat in the fifth by coaxing a foul-ball pop-up off the bat of clean-up hitter Andrew Prochello. Then Garrett struck out the side in the sixth and struck out two more in the seventh as he retired the Panthers in order again to end the game.
Bertram fanned five men in his first two innings. In the second he escaped a bases-loaded, one-out crisis by striking out the inning's final two batters. He allowed only three hits while striking out eight and walking three.
The Tanagers had only six base hits, but they came at opportune times—two each in the second, fifth and sixth innings.
VHS took a 2-0 lead in the second on a leadoff single by Caleb Miller, an RBI single by Bertram and a sacrifice fly by Jayce Huska. The Tanagers made it 3-0 in the third when Tanner Settles walked, stole second and scored on an infield error, one of seven Panther errors.
A walk, a stolen base and an RBI hit by Colin Gunderson brought DV back to within 3-1 before Bertram gave way to Garrett.
With Garrett cruising, the Tanagers found insurance with two in the fifth after two were out. Stormy Mirtz singled and Miller walked, setting the table for Joe Mazour. His single scored Mirtz, and Miller kept chugging around the bases. When the Panther catcher threw the ball into center field in an attempt to catch Mazour at second, Miller also scored.
Hits by Garrett and Settles and three more infield errors gave Vermillion two gift runs in the sixth.
The Tanager JVs also won their Monday game, 9-4.
Last Sunday's scheduled game at Wagner was postponed and will be made up on the evening of April 29 after the Tanagers play earlier in the day at Bon Homme.
On April 9 the Tanagers won twice in Mount Vernon against MV/P/W, 4-2 and 8-4. The opener was an extra-inning affair in which VHS scored two in the top of the ninth for the win. Garrett got the pitching win, throwing four scoreless innings.
In an earlier game VHS lost at Yankton 6-2. Both Tanager runs scored on a Mirtz triple, which gave VHS a temporary 2-1 lead. Chayse Meierkort took the pitch loss, allowing three of the Bucks' runs as did reliever Nile Morecraft.
The Tanagers will be at home tonight (Friday) against Bon Homme/Scotland. The JVs play first at 5 p.m. with the varsity to follow at about 7. On Saturday morning VHS plays a pair of JV games at Dakota Valley starting at 10. Next week the Tanagers are idle until Beresford/Centerville comes to Prentis Park on Friday night.