So far Rapid City Post 22's recipe for success in the State A American Legion baseball tournament in Pierre seems to be: a dash of strong pitching, a pinch of big plays defensively and a late-game surge offensively for dessert.
It was déjà vu all over again for the Hardhats Thursday, as they scored seven runs in the bottom of the sixth inning to thump Mitchell 11-1 in a game that ended via the 10-run mercy rule.
Post 22, 52-10, will face the other unbeaten team in the tournament, Renner, tonight at about 6 p.m. MDT. Renner dispatched hometown Pierre 9-2 on Thursday.
For the second straight night, the Post 22 pitching shined, first with starter Zach Chiolis, and then with reliever Tad Sherbenskie. Chiolis took a no-hitter into the sixth inning before leaving with a 4-1 lead.
Scherbenske got out of a bases-loaded jam with an infield pop-fly and a strikeout and gave way to the Post 22 offense to make it a blowout victory.
"The story of the game was the way Chiolis pitched," Post 22 manager Kelvin Torve said. "He threw strikes and challenged hitters. He got a little tired, he threw about 100 pitches, so he had to come out anyway. Sherbie came in and threw strikes and challenged hitters."
Still, like the 12-1 win over Brookings on Wednesday, it was a game that could have gone either way until Post 22 pulled away.
Torve said they were a hit away from breaking the game open on a couple of occasions, and Mitchell was a hit away from getting back in it.
"When you are playing baseball this time of the year, it is pretty tense until the last out is recorded," he said.
While Chiolis was working on a no-hitter, Mitchell was able to put some pressure on him in a couple of innings as he walked six batters and hit three more. Post 18 left the bases loaded in the fourth inning before Chiolis got out of it with two strikeouts to end the threat.
Post 18 could not get the big hit to make the difference.
"The thing is his stuff is good enough. He had a brain cramp and walked a couple of guys, but he can get back in the zone and challenge guys and get out of it," Torve said. "We're working with him on his mental approach. He is getting better this year, and throughout his career where he is more and more focused now. That's what we want to see."
The Post 22 offense never trailed for the second straight game, scoring one run in the first inning on a Jack Sorensen sacrifice fly, two in the second on RBI singles by Mason Messinger and Connor King, and another in the fifth on a Zach Sumption run-scoring single.
Mitchell finally got on the board in the sixth, but the Hardhats broke loose again in the bottom of the inning.
After Post 22 got its fifth run of the game when Mitchell didn't handle a hard hit ball by Matthew Hegre, the Hardhats got RBI singles by Cooper Bowman, Sorensen, Jace Caldwell and Alex Weaver.
Post 22 closed the game when King forced a bases-loaded walk and Ryan Schmidt scored on a wild pitch.
Sorensen, Caldwell, Sumption and Messinger all had two hits, while King drove in a pair of runs.
Torve said that Post 18 pitcher Brady Hawkins pitched well early, throwing hard and using his breaking ball when he was behind on the count.
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"We just kept chipping away, and again we didn't throw away too many at-bats. We had at-bats that counted," he said.
Despite the two lopsided victories, Torve said they still have a long way to go in the tournament, which concludes Sunday.
"We won today, and that is all I am concerned with," he said Thursday night. "(Friday), we will concern ourselves with that game. It's a cliche', but it is one-day-at-a-time."
Mitchell, 28-25, will face Pierre today in an elimination game.
Expos get past Shooters to stay unbeaten in Junior Tournament
In the fourth meeting between the two Rapid City rivals in a week, the Post 22 Expos got back at the Post 320 Shooters Thursday with a 5-1 win in the State Junior American Legion baseball tournament in Mitchell.
The Shooters scored two one-run wins over the Expos last week to win the Region 3A Junior title at Fitzgerald Stadium.
After both teams opened the tournament with wins on Wednesday, it was another battle Thursday.
This time the Expos had the upper hand, scoring two runs in the second inning on RBI singles by Thomas Maguire and Brayden Burrus, and leading 5-0 through five innings. In three-run fifth, Jeremy Weidmann got a RBI single, Weaver a sac fly for a run and Daniel Vigoren executed a double steal for the final run.
The Shooters got their lone run in the top of the sixth when Ryan Larson scored.
Weidmann and Burrus both had two hits and one RBI for the Expos, who moved to 35-14 on the season with the win.
Blake Weaver and Maguire also had one RBI for Post 22's Junior squad.
The Shooters, 23-15, had four hits by four different players.
True Synhorst got the win on the mound, pitching the first 6 2/3 innings, giving up four hits and the one unearned run. Weaver got the last out.
Dalton Klosterman pitched one scoreless inning for the Shooters, with Isaac Powers taking the loss, giving up four hits and all five runs (three earned) in 4.0 innings.
Logan Miller also pitched one scoreless inning.
With the win, the Expos will face Watertown tonight at about 6 p.m. MDT, while Post 320 will try to stay alive against Harrisburg at 2 p.m.