Coach Matt Houk's ballclub punched its ticket for next weekend's state tourney at Humboldt by clinching no worse than second place in the Region 1A tournament at Elk Point with a come-from-behind 8-5 win over Irene Tuesday.
Vermillion was to play for the championship Thursday against whoever came out of the losers' bracket among Irene, Chancellor and Dakota Valley. One of those teams will also go to the state tournament, which runs July 27-29.
Unlike two lopsided wins to open the tournament, the Irene game was a nail-biter, and Vermillion rallied from deficits of 2-1 and 4-3 to pull out the win with clutch hits and a 13-strikeout performance on the mound by Carter Kratz.
Kratz gave up seven hits but walked only two.
For a time Vermillion flirted with potential disaster, going 1-for-10 with runners in scoring position through 3 2/3 innings. Up to that point, the Teeners had scored only on a bases-loaded wild pitch in the third. But Billy Mount doubled to the left-field warning track, scoring a pair to put his team up 3-2.
In the fifth Riley Peters put the ball in play with Brandon Mockler at third base. Peters' grounder to third tied the game. Then the top third of the batting order put Vermillion ahead for good – Kyle Johnson punched one of his four hits through the infield, Cole Anderson did the same, and Kratz, like Mount an inning earlier, just missed a home run with a blast to the right-center fence that scored two.
Vermillion added a pair of insurance runs in the sixth on RBI hits by Mockler and Peters.
Vermillion finished the night with 13 hits and stranded 12 runners on base.
The Teeners had opened the tournament Saturday morning by falling behind Lennox 3-0 in the top of the first inning. Lennox took advantage of a pair of walks by starter Billy Mount and two hits. After that, however, Mount, buoyed by the runs his teammates were scoring, struck out five in three innings and was helped by catcher Brandon Mockler's throwing out two baserunners. Lennox never scored after its first-inning three spot.
Meanwhile, Mount himself drove in a run, and a wild pitch let in another in the bottom of the first. A successful delayed steal allowed Vermillion to the game in the third. In the fourth a leadoff double by Joe Miller and Riley Peters' bunt for a base hit led to two runs for a 5-3 lead.
Lennox changed pitchers to start the bottom of the fifth, and Vermillion, needing eight runs to allow the 10-run rule to kick in, got them. Carter Kratz's double started it all, an error at first base helped it along, and Cam Olson's two-run double set the tidal wave into motion.
Mockler's sacrifice fly, Peters' single, Kyle Johnson's single and a wild pitch put Vermillion up by 11-3. Cole Anderson and Kratz both earned walks, and Mount put an end to Lennox's misery with a double up the gap and that scored them both to end the game abruptly.
Sunday's second-round game against Canton was even more lopsided. Thirty-nine Vermillion men batted, and Canton got only nine of them out. The Teeners scored one in the top of the first inning and seven runs on six hits in the second.
But the top of the third was embarrassingly easy. Vermillion sent 24 men to the plate, 12 of them hit safely, seven walked, two were hit with pitches, and 18 of them scored.
With the 15-run rule due to apply at the end of the inning, Canton, which had scored two in the second, needed to score 10 runs to keep the game alive. They did get four on one hit, two walks and two errors, but the game ended at 26-6.
Peters had three hits and four RBIs in the third inning alone and four hits and five RBIs for the game. Olson and Hunter Christopherson had three hits each. Kyle Johnson and Kratz had two hits each.
Cole Anderson pitched the first two innings, giving up only one hit and walking three. Wyatt Markee pitched the third.