By Caleb Miller
Post 1 squared off against region opponents Lennox and Elk Point last week in their last chance to see the foes before the region tournament begins in Beresford on July 17.
The outcomes bode well for Vermillion’s tournament hopes as they trounced Lennox 13-3 last Thursday and Elk Point 15-1 the following night. If the regular season is any indication of how the tournament will pay out, Post 1 – who is undefeated against region opponents this season – could be on its way to repeating as Region 3B champions.
But the tournament pairings, drawn from a hat, were not on the side of the defending champs. Vermillion drew a play-in game to start the double-elimination format, forcing them to play an extra game than most teams, which could possibly lead to two games on the first day.
Head Coach Jason Gault said last week was important in readying the team for playoffs but the outcomes don’t always reflect how the tournament will go.
“We were lucky to play these teams back to back to with just a little rest because it gives us an idea of the type of grind of a region tournament,” he said. “To come out of them with wins and to know we played well is important … but in playoffs there’s a different atmosphere than a regular weeknight game and we have to be prepared for that.”
Post 1 will open the tournament against Dakota Valley at 1 p.m. next Wednesday, a matchup that heavily favors Vermillion, who has bested Dakota Valley twice this season 18-3 and 11-1. A win in game one would pair Vermillion against Lennox later that night. With a loss, Vermillion would battle the loser of an Elk Point and Beresford contest.
Pitching and defense will lead Post 1 through the playoffs as it has all year. The squad has allowed Class B opponents just 2.87 runs per game this season largely due to a tremendous pitching staff led by Collin Bertram, Colin Olson and Nile Morecraft, who have combined for a 10-1 record in Class B games.
Post 1, 13 – Lennox, 3
Vermillion’s Independence Day contest in Lennox was quite a scene with celebrations surrounding the park and a helicopter taking off and landing beyond the right field fence.
The commotion and holiday excitement fueled Lennox to a hot start. Lennox starter Jared Fodness struck out the side in the top of the first and the Lennox offense used a walk, hit batsman, and three singles to plate three runs in the bottom of the inning.
But Post 1 did not let the lead stand for long as they turned the tables with four runs in the top of the second. Joe Mazour, Nathan Garrett, Tanner Anderson and Jayce Huska each had RBI singles in the inning while Colin Olson and Peter Haught each walked and scored a run. After taking the lead, Vermillion never looked back.
Garrett started the game on the mound and settled down after the rocky first to throw a great game and capture the win. After the first, Garret went the next six innings allowing no runs on five hits and struck out six.
Offensively, Vermillion ran away with the game with two runs in the third, one in the fourth, one in the fifth, and five in the eighth. Anderson and Mazour led the squad at the dish. Anderson had four hits, two RBI’s, and two runs scored from the leadoff spot while Mazour went 2 for 3 with two RBI’s and three runs scored.
Post 1, 15 – Elk Point, 1
Fans that showed up a few minutes late to Elk Point last Friday found the game already decided. Vermillion brought 12 batters to the plate in the top of the first, scoring seven runs on four hits and four walks.
After Anderson set the table with a single and stolen base, Huska drove him in with a single of his own. Then Chayse Meierkort and Collin Bertram walked, allowing for Joe Mazour to rope a single back up the middle and drive in two runs.
But Post 1 didn’t stop there. Garrett brought in Mazour with a single, and Seth Miller walked and came around to score run number seven on errors and a passed ball.
Vermillion added five more with a streak of four straight hits in the fifth by Anderson, Huska, Meierkort and Bertram. The cherry on top of the Vermillion’s offensive sundae was a long home run over the left field fence by Meierkort in the sixth.
The Vermillion offense didn’t need much pitching help, but Colin Olson threw a gem anyway. In seven innings of work, Olson allowed only four hits and one run. Perhaps more impressively, Olson used only 86 pitches and struck out six in his dominance over Elk Point.