Rapid City Post 22 got off to a hot start in the championship game of the Gopher Classic, but ultimately fell on a walk-off homer to Omaha Millard West, Nebraska 8-7.
The Hardhats finished the 96-team tournament with a record of 7-1.
"They came back and swung the bats, we threw the ball well but they were excellent hitters, they have four or five Division I players on their roster," Post 22 coach Kelvin Torve said. "They just hit the ball, scored some runs and got one more than we did."
Post 22 got off to a 5-0 lead, spurred by a three-run home run from Connor King in the top of the second inning. It started with one run in the first, three in the second, one in the fourth and one in the fifth.
After that, Millard West got to work. It scored four runs in the fifth, the Hardhats got one in the sixth but the Wildcats got two in the sixth and two in the seventh, including the championship winning run.
Post 22 is now 45-9 and Torve said although the loss hurt, he was very happy with the way his team played during the five-day tournament.
"I’m thrilled, we played extremely well, competed every game, and every day it was something different that contributed something hat helped us win," he said. "It seemed like everyone contributed at some point during the tournament, even guys who don’t usually play would get a spot start and do well. We wish we would have won but when you have 96 teams and we’re one of the final two, it says a lot about the team and the effort we put forth."
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In addition to King's three RBI, Matthew Hegre, Jack Sorensen and Holden Jackson had an RBI in the game. Millard West outhit Post 22 9-8.
Zach Sumption pitched 4 2/3 innings in the start and allowed seven hits, four earned runs, two walks while striking out one. Jackson went 2/3 of an inning and gave up no hits, one run which wasn't earned, one walk while not registering a strikeout.
Cooper Bowman gave up the walk-off hit, and went 2/3 of an inning where he allowed two hits, three runs, two earned, two walks while striking out one.
For Millard West, Max Anderson had the big day. He hit two home runs, drove in four runs while going 3-for-4 at the plate and getting the win on the mound. He came in during the sixth inning and went 1 2/3 innings and allowed one hit, no runs, two walks and struck out one.
Torve said the Hardhats can use the tournament as a good measuring stick for well they can play as the team starts to look to the regional and state tournaments.
"Today was a tough one, we were heartbroken, myself included, however you need to look at the totality of the tournament and we played really well," he said. "We'll use this as a spring board for the rest of the season. We’ll always realize we’re never out of a game with the way we competed in this tournament and the Firecracker, we’ll always be in a game."
Post 22 begins a three-game series against Sioux Falls Post 15 East with a doubleheader at Fitzgerald Stadium Thursday that begins at 5 p.m.