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Hardhats King at regionals

Post 22's Connor King takes a hack Thursday against Dickinson in the Central Plains Regional elimination game in Dickinson. King had three hits as the Hardhats rolled to a 16-3 win.

With one swing of the bat, the Rapid City Post 22 Hardhats put Wednesday's opening loss at the Central Plains Regional American Legion baseball tournament behind them.

Zach Sumption's grand slam home run put the Hardhats up 5-0 in the first inning and Post 22 never looked back in thumping host Dickinson 16-3 Thursday at Astoria Field in Dickinson, North Dakota.

With the win, the Hardhats stay alive and will face Millard West (Omaha) today at 2 p.m. in another elimination game.

Post 22, 56-11, led 7-1 after two innings and totally put the game away with a nine-run sixth.

That first inning grand slam by Sumption kick-started the Hardhats, coming off an 8-2 loss to Dubuque County, Iowa.

"We come out and score five in the first and all was right with the world," Post 22 manager Kelvin Torve said. "We had a couple of guys play who hadn't had many at bats; everybody pretty much swang the bat well."

Torve said they really showed up in the first and sixth innings, although he was a little concerned about the third, fourth and fifth innings.

"We threw away a bunch of at-bats in those middle innings, but we had two fantastic innings, and that was pretty much the story of the ballgame," he said.

On the mound, the Hardhats got a solid effort from starting pitcher Zach Whitesell, who scattered nine hits and gave up one run in five innings. Connor King gave up two unearned runs in the sixth.

Whitesell was also able to get out of the game under the pitch-count limit, making him eligible to pitch Sunday if the Hardhats get that far. Wednesday starting pitcher Dylan Richey is also eligible.

"Our pitching is set up well for the remainder in the tournament, so now all we have to do is execute so we can use them on Sunday,' Torve said. "Zach did what he does and that is throw strikes and compete."

Post 22 had 13 hits and 15 runs batted in, with Sumption also getting a two-run double for six RBI. Cooper Bowman had three hits and three RBI, while Connor King also had three hits, while drawing another walk. Jace Caldwell had two hits and two runs batted in, with Alex Weaver knocking in two runs. Holden Jackson and Tod Stephens both had one RBI.

The win was the fourth of the season for Post 22 over Roughriders, who was eliminated from the tournament.

"Dickinson was the host team and they were young, and they struggled," he said. "All of the layups are done and we are going to be playing a lot better teams."

Torve said the tournament gets tougher from here on out.

Post 22 plays Millard West today at 2 p.m. The Omaha team lost to West Fargo 2-0 and has only scored one run in its two games. The two teams met in late July, with Millard West rallying for an 8-7 win over the Hardhats in the title game of the Gopher Classic.

"We still have to win five games, whether we go undefeated or battle our way through the loser's bracket," Torve said. "We have the pitching to do it, but it is a one-day-at-time thing. We have Millard West and it is going to be really tough. We'll roll it out there (Friday) and compete and see what happens."

In the other tournament games on Thursday, New Brighton, Minn. eliminated Wayzata, Miinn., 10-5 and Dubuque County crushed Omaha Burke 12-1.

Omaha Burke faces New Brighton today in an elimination game at 4:30 p.m., while Dubuque County takes on West Fargo a 7 p.m. in a battle of unbeatens.

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