By Caleb Miller
The 15-16 Teener baseball team used strong pitching and stifling defense in the opening rounds of last weekend’s “Bud” Greve Memorial Wood Bat Tournament in Wakefield, NE and followed it with an explosion of offense in the championship game en route to a first place finish.
Vermillion played two pool-play games against Lincoln Southwest Remax and Davenport-Edger before breaking to the championship round where they met the team from Wahoo, NE.
Jake Odens was the story game one against Remax Saturday afternoon, pitching all six innings and allowing no runs and only one hit. After two quick outs in the first inning, six consecutive Vermillion batters reached base, three coming around to score. This would be more than enough for Odens, who controlled the Remax lineup with seven strikeouts and only one runner past second base.
The Vermillion offense put the icing on the cake in the third when a two-out, bases loaded double by Joe Miller cleared the bases – scoring Odens, Brandon Mockler, and Matt Ouellette – and pushed the lead to 7-0.
Riding the momentum of game one, Vermillion jumped on top of Davenport-Edger Saturday night with two second-inning runs on singles by Ouellette, Wyatt Markee, Tyler Madsen, and Brett Hansen. But Mother Nature cooled the Vermillion bats when a rain delay caused the game to be suspended after two innings and resumed Sunday morning.
Davenport-Edger came out hot the next morning, scoring a run in the third off pitcher Markee and two more in the fourth off Jack Brown to take a 3-2 lead. Vermillion tied the game in the fifth when Regan Bye worked a lead-off walk and made his way around the bases on stolen bases and a single by Ethan James.
With the game still tied, the teams entered extra innings, but Davenport used two singles and a walk in the 7th frame to top Vermillion, 4-3.
Though Vermillion split the two, pool-play games, they advanced to the championship based on a tiebreaker of least runs allowed.
Ethan James took the ball for Vermillion Sunday night in a seven-inning battle with Wahoo for the tournament crown. The game seesawed in the early innings with Vermillion taking a 1-0 lead on a double by Brown in the top of the third, losing it 3-1 in the bottom, tying it up 3-3 on a triple by Madsen in the top of the fourth, and losing it again 4-3 in the bottom of the fourth.
But the bats came alive in a big way for Vermillion in the fifth. Bye was hit by a pitch to open the inning followed by base hits from six of the next seven batters including RBI singles by Weber and Markee and an RBI double by Miller. All told, the Teeners scored five runs in the inning, opening up an 8-4 lead they would not relinquish.
Insurance runs in the sixth and seventh pushed the Vermillion total to 13, and Odens returned to the mound in the final inning to secure a 13-6 thrashing of the Nebraskan competition.
There was no rest for the victors, who returned home from the tournament with back-to-back home games on Monday against Crofton and Tuesday against Hardington.
Crofton was no match for the Teeners and Regan Bye, who pitched a no-hitter in the 11-1 game that was ended after 5 innings due to the mercy rule. Bye controlled Crofton batters all night, retiring 10 on strikeouts. On the offensive side, Brown and Markee each had two hits and Miller scored three runs.
Fans got their money’s worth when the Teeners dualed Hardington the following night. After scoring a run in the top of the first, the Hardington bats was silenced by a great pitching effort from Markee. But the Vermillion offense couldn’t score a run, and the seven-inning game entered the bottom of the sixth with Hardington holding a 1-0 lead. But in the bottom of the sixth, Weber, Miller, and Odens all had RBI’s to key a Vermillion rally that enabled them to jump on top 5-1 heading into the final inning.
However, the Hardington batters finally got to Markee in the seventh and plated four runs to tie the game before Brown relieved him. In the bottom of the inning, Brown started the rally with a single and Markee was granted a walk, setting the stage for Weber to play hero. With Brown standing on third and the Hardington infield drawn in, Weber chopped a grounder to the second baseman. Brown broke for the plate on contact and scored easily, winning the game in dramatic fashion.