It proved to be a good day to battle back for the Rapid City Post 22 Hardhats.

After dropping a 3-0 decision to Sioux Falls Post 15 East — after crushing Sioux Falls West the night before — the Hardhats shook that loss off with two impressive wins over Renner Post 307 Saturday at Fitzgerald Stadium.

Post 22 won its fifth game in its last six contests with a 10-0 win in six innings and a 10-3 decision in the nightcap.

Sandwiched between the shutout loss to East is four wins, 49 runs scored on 49 hits.

"We were swinging the bat well before that," Post 22 assistant coach Nic Ewing said of Thursday. "You have one bad game and you just hope they keep the confidence, so it was encouraging to see them pop right back. That's the good thing about baseball, you don't have to wait very long to get another shot."

In the opener, the Hardhats, 9-6, rode the two-hit shutout pitching of Zach Whitesell and pulled away with a six-run fifth inning. The Post 22 offense finished with 11 hits and all 10 runs came on 10 RBI.

In the second game, the Hardhats had 12 hits and nine of the 10 runs scored were via a run batted in.

"It's baseball, it happens. You never know day-by-day," Post 22 second baseman Mason Messinger said of their Thursday struggles offensively. "But we bounced back obviously, and we're going to keep on going with this streak here."

 On the day, Messinger, from his leadoff position in the batting order, was 4-of-8 hitting with five RBI. Shortstop Colton Hartford, hitting ninth in the order, was 5-of-7 with 1 RBI, scoring four runs.

"We swung the bats well all week at practice, we were hitting the ball right-center and seeing it all of the way in," Messinger said. "We just applied that approach. They didn't all go right-center, but I think we were all seeing the ball really well."

Whitesell is establishing himself as the case of the starting pitching staff, as he moved to 3-0 on the year with an earned run average of 0.59. Saturday he walked four and struck out six.

"When Zach is out there you know he is going to compete, and he is going to keep you in the game because he is around the zone and he is a competitor," Ewing said. "He always gives us a chance."

Whitesell said it is always good when your teammates are making plays behind you.

"I just try to do my best and throw strikes, and let them do their job behind me," he said.

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Whitesell said nothing really has changed between seasons, other than he is a year older.

"I just try to throw strikes," he said. "In your second year you kind of get used to it, it is definitely a lot easier. I've been here before."

Jace Caldwell finished with three hits and three RBI in the first game, while Blake Weaver had two hits and two RBI.

Renner struck first with a run in the first inning off of starter True Synhorst and the game was tied at 2-2 in the fourth before the Hardhats scored three times in the bottom half of the inning to take the lead. Rapid City put the game away with a five-run sixth inning.

Hunter Tillery got the win in relief of Synhorst, scattering two hits and one run in 3 1/3 innings. Synhorst gave up two runs and four hits in 3 2/3 innings, but walked six hitters.

"True didn't have his best stuff, he wan't sharp. It had been a long time since his last start,"Ewing said. "Even without his good stuff he scrapped and only gave up two runs, so that is good to see."

Hartford had three hits in the second game, while Messinger, Drew Messer and Blake Weaver had two hits each.

Will Washenberger and Reece Arbogast had two hits each for Renner, 2-6.

"The guys knew what they needed to do and they did what they needed to do," Ewing said. "They capitalized on some opportunities. We talked about getting good on some details of the game, taking second base on singles, and things like that. They played hard and that was good to see."

Post 22 gets right back at it today when it hosts Harrisburg in a twinbill that begins at 1 p.m. Harrisburg split with Rapid City Post 22 Saturday night, losing the first game 9-5, but winning the nightcap 10-3.

Sunday's games are the team's sixth and seventh games in five days.

Messinger said that is how they like it.

"It's getting warm finally, and it is baseball now. The season is coming in strong," he said.

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Sports Editor

Sports reporter for the Rapid City Journal.