For the third time in three games, the Rapid City Post 22 Hardhats were in the middle of a tight contest at the South Dakota American Legion State Senior A Baseball Tournament.
For the first time, though, the Hardhats came out on the short end. Renner Post 307 handed Post 22 its first loss in the tournament by scoring two unearned runs in the bottom of the sixth inning for a 6-4 win Sunday in Brandon.
With the win, the Royals have now advanced to the state title game Tuesday, while the Hardhats will have to win three games for their 44th state title in program history.
Post 22 returns to action Monday at 4:30 p.m. MDT to take on Sioux Falls East Post 15.
“On the good side of things we competed all game long. I was encouraged by that,” Post 22 manager Kelvin Torve said. “We never gave up and competed all of the way trough. But way too many defensive mistakes to win a playoff baseball game.”
Renner jumped out to a 3-0 lead after two innings, only to see the Hardhats score all four of its runs in the top of the third for its lone lead of the game. The Royals came back with a run in the bottom of the third to tie the game and that is how it stood until the bottom of the sixth.
In the sixth inning, Renner loaded the bases with one out against reliever Drew Scherbenske on an error, a single and a walk. The Royals broke the tie on a suicide squeeze bunt by Manny Struck and led 6-4 on a RBI ground out by Zack Ridl.
Renner starting pitcher Sam Stukel, who went the distance, retired the Hardhats in order in the top of the seventh to pick up the win. Stukel gave up just four hits and two earned runs, walking one and striking out three.
Post 22 took advantage of a big Renner mistake in the third to take the lead. The Hardhats loaded the bases with no outs when Luke Jegeris was hit by a pitch, Blake Weaver walked and Dylon Marsh reached on a bunt single. Harrison Good bunted and reached on a throwing error by Stukel, scoring three runs, and Good moved all of the way to third on the play. He scored on a single by Ryker Henne.
But Post 22 couldn’t muster much of an offense from that point on with just two baserunners on an error and single.
Wyatt Anderson got the start on the mound and gave up five hits and four runs (two earned) in five innings, walking four and striking out eight. Scherbenske took the loss, giving up the two unearned runs on two hits in two innings.
Post 22 committed three errors, leading to just two of the six runs allowed to be earned.
“When you have the same amount of errors that you have base hits, that is a recipe to losing the baseball game,” Torve said.
Good had two of Post 22’s three hits, while Austin Henry had two hits for Renner and one RBI. Ridl, Teegan Schlimgen and Struck also drove home one run for the Royals.
The Hardhats will now have an uphill climb to defend its state title and that begins against East.
“It’s huge because everybody’s bullpens are pleated so everyone in the back-end of the bullpen is going to have to step up if we are going to win, which we can do,” he said. “I’m no math major, but I would rather have to win one game than three.”
Torve said that either Scherbenske or Weaver will get the start on the mound Monday. Scherbenske only had 13 pitched against Renner but has pitched twice in three games, so Torve said they need to get a ruling on is eligibility. If he can’t go, Weaver will get the start.
East went into the tournament as the top seed and stayed alive Sunday with a 4-3 win over Brandon Valley. Post 15 beat Watertown 6-1 but fell to Renner 10-5.
“They (East) swing the bat really well. I just hope that the team we have had in the last two weeks plays (Monday), where we throw competitive strikes, we make the plays defensively, we’ll be fine,” Torve said. “We have to stay away from giving a team four or five outs in an inning by making errors, we have to stay away from that.”
State A Junior Tournament
Expos eliminated from state
After opening the South Dakota American Legion State Junior A Baseball Tournament in Pierre, the Rapid City Post 22 Expos were eliminated with two losses on Sunday.
The Expos fell to Sioux Falls East Junior Legion 8-2 and to the Brookings Jr. Legion Chutes 11-1.
Against East, the Expos fell behind 4-0 after four innings and Post 15 ran away with the win with four runs in the top of the seventh.
Kolby Denke and Tate Crosswait had two hits each, while Crosswait, Easton Ogle and Blaine Bolton all drove home run run.
Brookings scored seven runs in the top of the first inning and added three more in the second for the lop-sided victory.
The Expos had four hits, with Alex Dietrich knocking in the lone run.
The Expos finished the season at 30-20.