Rapid City Post 22 ran its winning streak to eight games with a dominating 11-1 five-inning victory over rival Rapid City Post 320 on Tuesday at Fitzgerald Stadium.
The pressure the Hardhats’ bats kept on the Stars was unrelenting throughout the game. The workman-like approach helped Post 22 score runs in all five innings and kept Post 320 on its heels throughout the game.
“Post 320 is a good team,” Hardhat third baseman Matt Hegre said. “We knew we had to come out, get our bats going, get our pitching going, to see where we go. We did that tonight.”
“Everybody went up to bat with the intent, ‘I’m going to do some damage,’ and they did,” Post 22 coach Kelvin Torve said. “Earlier this year, it was in fits and starts. Now it's every day. They go and compete every day.”
Post 320, like its rival Hardhats, had its chances during the early innings.
The Stars had two on with one out in the first, but saw their threat snuffed when Carter Stonecipher lined out to Hegre, who alertly threw out Grayson Skinner at second base.
In the second, Devin Jacobs opened the inning with a single and reached third base following a walk and a passed ball. Tate Walker laid down a bunt down the first base line that scored Jacobs when it stayed fair as it reached Post 22 first baseman Jace Caldwell.
The Stars couldn’t capitalize on having the bases loaded and saw the inning end with Skinner hitting into a fielder’s choice.
Hegre nicked Skinner, who started for Post 320, for a two-run home run in the first to get the Hardhats offense started. Then in the second, Skinner balked twice, moving Hardhat base runners into scoring position. Ryan Bachman’s sacrifice fly scored Ryan Schmidt and pushed Post 22 up 3-0.
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Post 320 coach Brian Humphries felt the miscues early on put his Stars back on their heels.
“When you play a good team, you can’t have any mistakes,” Humphries said. “We had the two balks, one ended up as a run. We had a leadoff hit-by-pitch, and that ended up being a run. We had some passed balls. We were giving people free bases and a free 90 feet.”
The Stars were down 5-1 heading into the bottom of the fourth when the Hardhats struck for four runs, all with two outs. The key to the Post 22 rally came when Bransen Kuehl’s flyball to deep center field was dropped, leading to a pair of runs. Caldwell built on the miscue by hammering a two-run homer over the center field wall.
Suddenly, Post 22 found itself up 9-1 and cruising. Alex Weaver capped a 3-for-3 night at the plate with a sharp single to left field to drive in Mason Messinger and Hegre to close out the game.
“This game was intense, because it’s a rivalry game,” Torve said. “But our guys have given every indication they’re going to keep playing at this level. We’re comfortable with who we are and how we go about our business.”
Zach Choilis pitched four innings and allowed only four hits, one earned run while walking four and striking out four for Post 22 (37-12).
Jacobs had two hits to pace Post 320 (28-21)
Both teams head to the Gopher Classic tournament this weekend in Minneapolis. Play in the tournament begins Thursday.