Coming off two tough losses to open the Black Hills Veteran’s Classic, it would be easy to understand why Rapid City Post 320 would come into Friday night’s game against Alliance, Neb., with a chip on its shoulder.
A focused Stars ballclub jumped on the Spartans for seven first-inning runs then backed it up with nearly perfect play in all phases of the game as Post 320 ran away with a 17-2 win in three innings at Pete Lien Memorial Field to improve to 1-2 in the tournament’s standings.
“It was a big, big turnaround for us from last night,” Stars head coach Brian Humphries said. “It was good to see us hit the ball, pitch well and play good defense.”
“That first inning, it really got us going,” said Post 320 catcher Wyatt Hunt, who opened scoring when he hit a two-run home run. “Putting up that seven-spot was nice. It got the team fired up and then we had momentum on our side.”
Starting pitcher Xander Dansby set the tone for the Stars from the get-go. Dansby worked a clean first inning, retiring Alliance in order.
Once Post 320 headed to the plate to bat, the Stars started fast a kept rolling on their way to building a 7-0 lead. Lane Darrow reached on a single and scored when Hunt drove Kellen Muhr’s pitch over the centerfield wall for a home run.
Post 320 wasn’t done.
Tate Walker singled and scored from first when Gage Darrow doubled down the left field line. Logan Ammerman drew a walk ahead of Gavyn Dansby singling to drive in Darrow. Logan Miller singled to load the bases before Lane Darrow singled again to drive in Ammerman. J.T. Kostenbauer followed with a two-out single to score Dansby and Miller for a 7-0 lead.
Suddenly, a Post 320 team that played a little tight Thursday night loosened up and played relaxed.
“It says a lot about a team not to let something like that affect them,” Humphries said of his team’s rebound from Thursday’s losses. “You get upset about the losses, but once you fall asleep and you wake up the next morning, it’s a new day.”
On the mound, Xander Dansby worked his way out of a two-on, two-out jam in the second by coaxing a flyball out from Alliance’s Muhr.
Post 320 tacked on three more runs in the bottom of the second. Miller drove in the final two runs of the frame with a two-run homer over the right field wall to make it 10-0.
The Spartans rallied for two runs with two outs in the top of the third to cut the Stars’ lead to 10-2.
Collin Schrawyer walked and Caeson Clarke followed with a single to right field, advancing Schrawyer to third on the play. Trevor DuBray singled to drive in Schrawyer and push Clarke to third. Clarke later scored on a wild pitch before Dansby retired Jacob Callan on a flyball to center.
The first six Post 320 batters reached base to start the bottom of the third inning, and all six eventually scored. The Stars closed out the game when Lane Darrow scored on a sacrifice fly hit by Henry London.
“We’ve got to come in and fight at our house,” Hunt said of the Stars’ approach to the game with an Alliance ballclub that played weary after beating Miles City, Mont., 14-11 in a game that went about 3-1/2 hours. “It was a mindset thing.”
Gavyn Dansby went 2-for-2 at the plate, scored twice and drove in four runs for Post 320. Walker scored three times, with one hit and drawing two walks. Lane Darrow went 3-for-4 and scored twice.
Xander Dansby threw three innings of three-hit ball on the mound. He struck out two and walked two on his way to the win.
The Stars (15-17) play an important league-points game against Sioux Falls East at 6 p.m. today before taking on the Post 22 Expos at 8 p.m. Both games are at Pete Lien Field.