By Caleb Miller
The 13/14 Teener Reds finished up their regular season this week with commanding wins over Tabor and Tea to improve their overall record to 24-6.
The Reds will look to take momentum from the victories as they enter the region tournament beginning Saturday in Irene.
First and second place in each region receive a bid to the state tournament, but the Vermillion team is in a unique position as the host of the state tournament. As hosts, they receive an automatic bid to the state competition regardless of their region tournament finish.
But the team said it’s not going to let the automatic bid affect its playoff mindset.
“We are playing regions to win,” said Assistant Coach Tanner Anderson. “The only way we will be successful at the state level is by taking care of business in the region tournament and winning a trophy.”
With an 8-1 record against region opponents this season, the Reds are certainly a favorite to defend their title as region champions. Last season’s squad, who went undefeated in the region tournament, featured six starters who have returned as leaders in this year’s lineup. Experience and depth is key for the Teener’s success.
The depth is on display in the pitching staff as 8 of the team’s 12 players have notched pitching victories this season. Billy Mount, Carter Kratz, Hunter Christopherson, and Cole Anderson compose the starting rotation and have combined for 18 of the team’s 24 wins. Kyle Johnson has three saves on the year and will be looked to in relief.
The Reds will begin the double-elimination tournament with a matchup against Beresford at 4:30 p.m. Saturday. Vermillion edged Beresford 9-4 earlier this season and, if they can repeat their performance, would play Irene Sunday afternoon. With a loss in game one, the team would move to the loser’s bracket.
Vermillion Reds, 18 – Tabor, 3
A back and fourth game in the early innings last Sunday was blown open when Vermillion plated 11 runs in the top of the fourth. Two runs in the top of the first, three in the top of the second, and two in the top of the third culminated in the 18-run offensive explosion, leading to the mercy coming into effect after four innings.
Carter Kratz led the team on the mound and at the plate. Kratz pitched all four innings, allowing three runs on five hits and striking out eight. Kratz was even more dominant at the dish where he drove in four runs on three hits and scored twice. Kyle Johnson played the ideal leadoff hitter role, reaching base and scoring a run in all four of his plate appearances. Cameron Olson Riley Peters each also had two hits and scored two runs in the win.
Vermillion Reds, 15 – Tea, 0
It didn’t take long for the Vermillion offense to once again break the game open on Monday at Prentis Park. The Reds batted through the order in the second and third innings en route to six runs in the second and nine in the third. Billy Mount was the starting hurler and kept the Tea offense in check for four innings before the mercy rule ended the game. Two walks and one hit was all Tea could muster against Mount, who struck out three and used only 51 pitches to do the job.
When Tea was able to get base-runners, catcher Nate Robertson quickly silenced the momentum. Robertson gunned out both the runners that attempted to steal, keeping Mount’s gem intact.
Cole Anderson jump-started the Red’s offense with a two-RBI triple in the second, plating Peters and Riley Johnson. Cameron Olson and Nate Robertson contributed a hit apiece and each scored thrice in the rout.