Like most teams, the Black Hills Americans went into Midwest Regional Junior Little League Tournament in Fort Wayne, Ind., just wondering how they would stack up.
They've learned that they stack up rather well, as they will play for the Midwest title today against Johnston, Iowa. The Americans moved into the championship game after thumping Glendale, Wis., 13-3 Wednesday.
If the Americans beat Iowa, they will then face the winner of the Great Lakes Regional for the Central title, with that winner moving on to the Junior Little League World Series in Taylor, Michigan.
It'e been a total team effort, according to manager Justin Dike.
"The guys have really rallied around each other," Dike said. "They are not playing for individual accolades, they are playing as a team, trying to go as far as they can."
Their success on Wednesday started on the mound with a strong, consistent effort by Joseph Corwin, who went the distance (five innings, giving up five hits and the three runs. he struck out four.
"Joe pitched the entire game and he got us a ton of ground balls," Dike said. "We were able to turn a couple of double plays. We've actually turned seven double plays in this tournament."
Isaac Dike had another big game offensively, with three hits, including a solo run home run in the third inning. He knocked in three runs and is 11-of-13 in the four games of the tournament with two home runs and seven RBIs.
The Americans opened with two runs in the top of the first on a RBI double by Dike and a run-scoring single by Corwin, but Wisconsin came back with three runs in the second for their only lead of the game.
It was all Black Hills Americans from there on, as they regained the lead with three runs in the third, two more in the fourth and a big five-run fifth that would eventually give them the 10-run rule win.
Lopez and Corwin had RBI singles in the fourth and Lopez opened the fifth with a two-run double. The Americans also scored one run on a bases-loaded walk and two straight hit-by-pitches with the bases still loaded.
Corwin helped his own cause with three hits and two runs batted in, while Aaron Robertson, Arell Lopez and Aaron Roach all had two hits. Lopez led the way with four RBIs.
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Aidan Mason, Kolton Moshier and Hayden Leighty all had one run batted in.
The Americans will also be looking for revenge Thursday, as the Iowa team handed them their only loss of the tournament, 8-3 Tuesday.
"That loss was self-inflicted, and we can fix that," Justin Dike said. "We held back today, trying to save some pitching with the hopes that Joe Corwin would throw like he did today. It absolutely worked out."
Missouri beats Fargo to reach Little League semifinals
In the Midwest Regionals (12 year olds) tournament in Westfield, Ind., Webb City Mo., got past Fargo, N.D. 6-3 Wednesday and will play at 9 a.m. Friday in one semifinal contest. The winner of that game will take on Iowa-Minnesota winner in Saturday's title game.
All three games will be televised on ESPN.
Renner, Post 15 fall in Central Region openers
It was a tough day for the two Sioux Falls-area American Legion teams Wednesday to begin the Central Region Tournament in Sioux Falls.
Renner, the South Dakota state champions, fell to Oshkosh, Wis., 4-3, and Sioux Falls Post 15 West, the host team, dropped a tough 9-8 decision to Edina, Minn., as Edina scored two runs in the bottom of the seventh for the win.
Also on Wednesday, Appleton, Wis., beat Dubuque County, Iowa, 9-4 and Excelsior, Minn., thumped Fargo, N.D., Post 2 17-11.
No regional tournament for the Expos
The Rapid City Post 22 Expos and Renner Post 307 Kings were slated to play in the regional tournament this weekend in Fargo, N.D.
But Expos manager Ty Daly said a Colorado team pulled out of the tournament and officials were unable to secure another team to compete, so the tournament was canceled.
The Expos, who fell to Renner in the state title game at Pete Lien Memorial Field, finished the season at 27-30.