By Caleb Miller
Playoff baseball has hit South Dakota as the 13-14 Teener Reds opened its region tournament this week in Irene. The Reds edged Beresford 5-3 in an extra inning affair in round one and followed it up with a throttling of Irene 15-1 in round two. The Teeners found themselves in extras again in game three, but lost this one 8-7 to Dakota Valley.
In the double elimination format, the Reds are down but not out. With a win Wednesday against Beresford, the squad can play its way back into the championship round on Thursday where they would need to beat Dakota Valley twice in a doubleheader.
As per Teener rules, the first and second place region teams advance to the State tournament. However, Vermillion hosts the state competition this years, so is guaranteed a spot regardless of region tournament outcomes.
Vermillion Reds, 5 – Beresford, 3
The Reds wasted no time capturing the excitement and energy of playoff baseball as they went into two extra innings on the tournament’s first night. A sacrifice fly in the first inning by Carter Kratz scored Kyle Johnson to give the Reds an early 1-0 advantage. Two innings later, Kyle Johnson and Cole Anderson led off with back-to-back singles setting the stage for another sacrifice fly for Kratz to score Johnson and a balk to score Anderson.
The 3-0 lead would not hold for long as Beresford answered in the fifth. Beresford used two singles and two errors to plate three runs off Reds starter Hunter Christopherson. With the game tied, Billy Mount relieved Christopherson.
The scored remained tied past its usual seven innings, and Vermillion wasn’t able to break it until the ninth. Anderson reached on an error by the Beresford centerfielder, and then stole second and third. Kratz delivered the go-ahead RBI with a scorching single past the second baseman. An errant throw by the Beresford first baseman allowed Kratz to score himself, pushing the lead to 5-3. Mount made quick work of Beresford in the bottom half of the inning to send the Reds into the winners bracket.
Vermillion Reds, 15 – Irene, 1
Three consecutive singles by Anderson, Kratz, and Mount in the top of the first inning plated two Vermillion runs and gave the squad a lead it would not relinquish. The Reds scored a run in each the second and the third before the floodgates opened in a six-run fourth inning.
Cole Anderson started the game on the mound and handled the Irene lineup until four walks in the fourth inning spelled an Irene run and the end to Anderson’s night.
Kratz finished the inning with six consecutive strikes, and Kyle Johnson came in for the fifth and final inning of the game shortened by the mercy rule. Kratz and Mount had identical, huge days at the plate, each going 3-3 with two singles and a triple. Riley Peters also added two hits and a run in the rout that sent the Reds to the semifinal game against Dakota Valley.
Vermillion Reds, 7 – Dakota Valley, 8
The Reds jumped out to an optimistic start in last Tuesday’s semifinal game. Billy Mount clubbed a long homerun to left field with Kratz and Anderson on base to give Vermillion a 3-0 lead. A bases loaded walk by Riley Johnson later in the inning plated a fourth. But Dakota Valley countered in the second, with a two-out, bases loaded blooper by Bryce Schroeder, which allowed all three runners to score.
Christopherson scored on a shortstop error in the third, and Kyle Johnson scored on another RBI hit by Mount in the fourth to nudge the lead back up to 6-3. But Dakota Valley once again answered with an RBI infield single by Schroeder in the fourth and a two-RBI infield pop-up that dropped to tie the game in the sixth.
The score remained tied into the extra eighth inning before Vermillion got a run when Nate Robertson walked and came around to score on a passed ball. In the bottom of the eighth, Dakota Valley loaded the bases on two singles and a hit batsman with one out. A bouncing ball to second baseman Riley Johnson looked as if it may be a double play and a way out of the jam for Vermillion, but Kratz’s throw to first was wide of Christopherson’s glove and the tying and winning runs came around to score to end the game.
Kratz pitched the first seven innings for the Reds in a valiant effort. Kratz threw what could have been a gem, but some errors and bad breaks led to Dakota Valley scoring six runs on him, all with two outs. Kyle Johnson gets pegged with the loss as he came into the game in the eighth.