Completing the regular season with a three-game sweep of regional opponents, the Post 1 American Legion baseball team enters this weekend's Region 1B tournament with some degree of momentum after losing a string of games to Class "A" foes.
Vermillion, with its lead trimmed to 4-3 after five innings, came up with an insurance run in the sixth and then blew away Dakota Valley with an eight-run eighth. Reliever Nate Garrett retired the last seven Dakota Valley batters in succession, and his 1-2-3 inning in the bottom of the eighth ended the game in North Sioux City last Thursday via the 10-run rule at 13-3.
Post 1 was to begin play in the regional at Lennox against the host team at 4 p.m. yesterday (Thursday). Beresford, Elk Point-Jefferson and Dakota Valley are the other teams in the tournament, which ends Sunday and sends its champion to the state "B" tourney at Milbank next weekend.
In the game at Dakota Valley Post 1 pounded out 13 hits, 11 of them against starter Jerad Price. Chayse Meierkort had three of them, including a two-run home run that concluded the eight-run eighth. Jayce Huska and Collin Bertram had two hits each. Caleb Miller, Meierkort, Nile Morecraft and Huska each drove in a pair of runs.
Tanner Anderson's first-inning sacrifice fly made it 1-0. Miller's infield grounder allowed Vermillion's second run to score in the third. A Huska hit and Joe Mazour's infield out drove in runs in the fourth.
Dakota Valley scored once in the first inning and twice in the fifth off starter Meierkort. He left the mound in favor of Garrett, who retired the side in the fifth with the tying run on base. He also pitched his way out of a jam in the sixth with the potential tying and lead runs in scoring position. After that the Panthers had no baserunners.
Mazour's walk, a passed ball, Garrett's sacrifice bunt and Bertram's grounder to second scored a run in the seventh to make it 5-3.
The game-changing top of the eighth saw Meierkort singling and Anderson beating out an infield hit to set the table for Morecraft. Batting for the first time after replacing Stormy Mirtz, who rolled an ankle while running the bases in the previous inning, Morecraft drove an 0-2 up the gap in right-center, scoring Meierkort and Anderson and breaking the game open.
Then Post 1 couldn't be stopped. Huska's double scored Morecraft and sent Price to the showers. His reliever, Mike Rennerfeldt, struggled through the rest of the inning. Settlers walked and stole second, scoring on Garrett's single. Before the side could be retired, a wild pitch scored Garrett, and Meierkort's homer made it a 13-3 margin.
Failing to come up with clutch hits with runners in scoring position had been a problem in some recent games, but not this time. Vermillion stranded only three men on base.