The first two weeks have been a struggle for the defending state champion Rapid City Post 22 American Legion baseball program.

At 4-5, the Hardhats aren't playing up to Post 22's standard, so says head coach Kelvin Torve.

Wednesday night in their home opener at Fitzgerald Stadium, Mother Nature wasn't a fan either, wiping out the game against the Gillette (Wyo.) Riders.

With the way things have gone, the weather likely spoiled things for the Riders, not the Hardhats. Gillette led 5-2 in the top of the fifth and were threatening to blow the game open before a hard 10 minutes or so rain soaked the field.

Torve and the parent-led grounds crew tried to get the field back in playing condition, but the rain was just too much.

"We were playing poorly, but regardless, you want to get a game in," Torve said. "They (Gillette) drive two hours to play a game, but Mother Nature did not cooperate. What happened, happened."

Rapid City, which fell to the Riders 6-3 in its season opener in Gillette, came into Wednesday night off of a 2-2 weekend in Billings, Mont., against the Billings Scarlets and Royals and the Missoula Mavericks.

Previously, Post 22 blasted Spearfish, but dropped two of three on the road at Cheyenne (Wyo,.) Post 6, this weekend's opponents at Fitzgerald Stadium.

"We're just not doing anything well consistently and we're not doing anything poorly consistently," Torve said. "It just seems that in the games that we lose, we do one of the three areas of baseball badly, and it costs us the game.

"I'm getting tired of it and I'm hoping our players are getting tired of it. This has to change and I believe it will. But it is no fun going through a stretch like this."

Take away Spearfish and the Hardhats' opponents are among the best in the region with multiple state titles in Montana and Wyoming. At the same time, Torve said that shouldn't matter — his team just isn't performing well.

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He said that if they play their game, they win those games (five losses), and we're talking about another strong start for the Hardhats.

"We just haven't played consistently well enough to win a majority of our games," he said. "We're a 4-5 baseball team and our record says we are a mediocre baseball team right now. Once we get sick of being mediocre, we'll be fine. Until we figure that out, it will continue."

Wednesday night the Hardhats got off to a nice start in front of a big home crowd, leading 2-0 after three innings on a RBI double by Matthew Hegre and a solo home run by Jake Goble.

But Gillette scored four times in the fourth and another in the top of the fifth.

Although the Hardhats lost some key players off of last year's tittle team — the 42nd in the program's history — Torve said they have a good mixture of veterans and newcomers on this team.

"I like our team," he said. "We're a good team, we're just not playing well right now. It comes down to executing every pitch and every play. If you make a mistake you forget about it and move on. At the end of the game you add it up, and if you do more things right than you do poorly, then you win the game. Right now we're just not willing ourselves to playing well."

Torve added that it is still early and they are not panicking by any stretch. The Hardhats have an aggressive schedule this season.

"But this is not Post 22 baseball," he said. "We'll figure it out.

Post 22 hosts Post 6 Saturday for a doubleheader at 5 p.m. and a single game Sunday at 11:30 a.m.

"Cheyenne is a good ballclub, but so are we," Torve said. "We're just not very good now."

Especially for Post 22.

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Sports Editor

Sports reporter for the Rapid City Journal.