By Caleb Miller
For the third time this summer, a Vermillion squad is hoisting a region championship trophy and heading to the state tournament.
The 15/16 Teeners put on a dominant performance in their undefeated run through the region tournament, outscoring opponents 28-7 over four games. Vermillion hosted the double-elimination tournament’s first two rounds, which saw the home squad dismantle Elk Point 11-1 and edge Dakota Valley 5-3.
The tournament then moved to Lennox, where the Teeners outlasted Harrisburg 4-2 in the semifinal before Harrisburg won its way back into the championship game.
Harrisburg would have needed to beat Vermillion twice to take the crown, but Vermillion put them to bed in game one with a convincing 8-1 win.
With the victory, the 15/16’s join the Vermillion Post 1 Legion and the 13/14 Teeners as region champions this year.
Vermillion, 11 – Elk Point, 1
Regan Bye took the mound in game one last Tuesday to face Elk Point, an opponent the Teeners had beaten by double digits twice this season. A powerful offensive attack decided the game early in Vermllion’s favor. The home squad scored in four of the game’s five innings before the game was ended by the mercy rule.
In the first inning, Joe Miller doubled to spark the offense in the first inning. Travis Weber’s sacrifice fly later that inning scored Miller and opened the floodgates for the Teeners.
As the offense rolled, Bye did his part on the mound, holding Elk Point to one run on two hits in four innings. Brandon Mockler relieved Bye for the fifth inning, pitching a scoreless frame to end the game.
Vermillion, 5 – Dakota Valley, 3
With each team winning its first round game, Vermillion and Dakota Valley clashed in a pivotal second round contest. Dakota Valley had bested Vermillion 18-17 in a wild regular season game early in the year, but the Teeners were out for revenge.
Wyatt Markee took the ball for Vermillion, turning in a four-inning, three-run effort to capture the win. The Vermillion offense came alive early to get a lead, but the defense secured the victory in the tight game.
In the first inning, Vermillion got on the board first when Miller sent a towering double off the left field fence and Weber roped a single up the middle to bring him home. The Teeners added to their total in the second with a four-run outburst. After walks to Jake Odens, Matt Ouellette, and Brandon Mockler loaded the bases, Miller delivered a two-RBI single to left field.
After Jack Brown reached to load the bases again, a pop-out and a strikeout retired two Vermillion batters without scoring any of the runners. But Regan Bye came through with two outs, bouncing a single through the left side to score Odens and Miller, a hit that would prove to be the difference in the game. Vermillion took comfortable 5-0 lead after two innings.
Markee rolled through the first three innings without giving up a run thanks to some tremendous defense behind him. But Markee ran into trouble with the top of the Dakota Valley lineup in the fourth. Dakota Valley used four hits to plate three runs and cut the lead to two. After the inning, Markee gave way to reliever Ethan James, who pitched the rest of the game.
The game’s final three innings were void of any runs but full of excitement. James’ combination of fastballs and knuckleballs kept Dakota Valley off balance while his defense played strong, errorless baseball behind him.
In the seventh and final inning, James walked the leadoff batter to bring the tying run to the plate, a glimpse of momentum for Dakota Valley. But a flyout, a strikeout, and another flyout silenced Dakota Valley and sent Vermillion to third round undefeated.
Vermillion, 4 – Harrisburg, 2
The Vermillion offense, which had been powerful to this point, met strong resistance in the third round as Harrisburg sent its ace pitcher to the mound. Vermillion pushed across a run in the first, but the hurler held Vermillion to just that in the first five innings, giving Harrisburg a 2-1 advantage after five.
Markee returned to the hill for Vermillion, rolling through the first two innings, but hit a rough patch in the third. Harrisburg capitalized on an error in the Vermillion outfield to score two runs in the inning. After Markee allowed Harrisburg to load the bases with one out later in the inning, he was lifted in favor of Carter Kratz.
Although he came into a tough situation, Kratz was up to the task, striking out back-to-back Harrisburg hitters to keep the game at 2-1.
Vermillion finally made its move with two outs in the sixth. Mockler delivered a clutch, RBI single, scoring Kratz to tie the game.
But the Vermillion offensive rally was not over. Odens followed Mockler with a double of his own, giving Vermillion a lead it would not relinquish.
After Odens, Miller doubled him home, adding an insurance run and pushing the score to 4-2.
Kratz pitched a scoreless sixth to get the win in the game, and James came to the hill in the seventh to capture his second save in as many games.
Vermillion, 8 – Harrisburg, 1
After two close contests in their last two games, the Teeners made quick work of Harrisburg in the championship game.
Vermillion gave Jake Odens the ball, and he turned in a championship effort. Odens went all seven innings, allowing only one run to get the win. Harrisburg put runners on base in every inning, but Odens always manage to limit the damage while his offense gave him the lead.