STURGIS — Win and advance is what regional play is all about, and that is exactly what the Rapid City Post 22 Hardhats did Wednesday night, stopping Sturgis 7-2 at Strong Field.
With the win, the Hardhats, 48-10, will take on Mitchell today at 2 p.m. Mitchell downed Rapid City Post 320 in the first game of the day, 9-3 in eight innings.
It wasn't the easiest of wins for the Hardhats, but a solid one from the mound and on defense. Post 22 didn't make an error behind the strong pitching from Zach Whitesell, who scattered four hits and had a one-hit shutout until the top of the seventh.
Post 22 led just 2-0 through three innings before getting some breathing room with two runs in the fourth and three more in the fifth.
Post 22 manager Kelvin Torve said he was pleased with his team's pitching and defense.
"Whitesell threw the heck out of the baseball," Torve said. "I think 56 pitches in seven innings is just fantastic. He threw strikes all night, he challenged hitters and we made good plays defensively behind him."
The Hardhats got on the board in the bottom of the first when Connor King raced home on a passed ball. In the third, Post 22 made it 2-0 on a RBI single by Jace Caldwell.
In the fourth, King doubled home Mason Messinger, who walked, and King scored on a single by Matthew Hegre. Rapid City made it 7-0 in the fifth on a RBI double by Caldwell, a run-scoring passed ball and a bases-loaded walk.
The Hardhats had just eight hits in the game.
"About all we can say is we got the runs that we needed," Torve said of his team's offense. "It took us three innings to kind of figure it out, and even after that, we took a lot of tepid swings. Offensively, it wasn't our best effort, but we got enough to win."
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Jack Sorensen led the way with three hits, while Caldwell added two hits and two RBI, and Hegre knocked in a pair of runs.
Stymied by Whitesell for the first six innings, Sturgis broke the shutout on a big two-run home run by David Anderson over the right-field wall in the top of the seventh.
"(Manager) Wade Huntington has done a great job with those guys," Torve said. "We played them early in the year and they have improved a whole lot. He's done a really good job."
Covey Ulmer took the loss on the mound, giving up eight hits and six runs through four innings, while Anderson got two outs and gave up one run. Gage Murphey pitched the final 1 1/3 innings for Sturgis, which fell to 11-23 on the season.
The Titans face Post 320 in an elimination game today at 4:30 p.m.
Although it wasn't a dominating win, Torve said they did what they had to do to move on.
"We got that done tonight and now it is on to Mitchell (Thursday). We have to just keep our eyes in what is front of us and not look too far ahead," he said.
The Hardhats defeated Mitchell twice early in the season, 17-7 and 11-8. Mitchell, however, has won 12 of its last 15 games.
"They played well against 320, and we played them earlier this year. I know they are a well-coached team and they have improved. They had a good Gopher Classic," Torve said. "I expect a good ballgame."