After a 15-0 loss to Billings, Montana Thursday, Rapid City Post 320 knew it was important to come out strong as the Black Hills Classic opened Friday at Pete Lien Field.
It did just that.
The Stars, 13-6, had no problem with the Casper Drillers, scoring early and often in a 9-0 win.
"We took advantage, they’re a young ball club over there. They’re more of a J.V. type team, but they made the decision to come to this," Post 320 coach Rich Downs said. "We thought it was their varsity and I don’t think it was, you still want to go out and respect your opponent and play hard."
J.T. Kostenbauer went the distance on the mound for the Stars, and Eric Gonzales went 2-for-3 with a double, triple and three RBI.
"We had great pitching from J.T. Kostenbauer, a 16-year-old. I think he only threw 45 or 50 pitches, so that was really awesome. He set the tone by throwing strikes. We made the plays behind him, got the quality at bats, took care of business fairly early, and that’s how you get a W,'" Downs said. "Eric has been performing well. If he stays within his discipline, he’s a really good hitter. When he goes bad a little bit, he’s leaving the zone and not picking the ball up, but he’s been making adjustments. We moved him up to the two hole to get him a couple of extra at bats in each game, and its been working out well."
Post 320 started strong with two runs in the bottom of the first inning, and exploded for six runs in the second. It added a run in the third, all while Kostenbauer gave up only one hit.
Gonzales' RBIs came in the first and second, with his two-run triple in the second giving the Stars a 4-0 lead. He said the key to his success has been believing in himself and being patient.
"Having confidence coming straight off the field, looking for one pitch to drive, using the the first two strikes of the at-bat just to really hit the ball hard and using the last pitch to get a team at-bat, get the ball on the ground and get on base," Gonzales said. "It really suits me better as a hitter (hitting second in the lineup). If my leadoff batter gets on I can move him over, and I think I do that pretty well."
Gonzales said after Thursday's loss the Stars knew they had to come out with more energy.
"We were all ready to play today, unlike yesterday. We came in very flat and today we were ready to play," he said. "Coming out for the first game of a tournament is always extremely important, showing the other teams that we’re here to play is key."
Today Post 320 faces Alliance, Nebraska, which went 2-0 Friday with wins over Spearfish Post 164 (8-7) and Lennox Post 174 (15-3).
Alliance will face Casper before taking on Post 320.
"That’s a big game for us. They’re 2-0 and I fully anticipate them being 3-0 by the time we play them," Downs said. "They have the one guy who can come out and throw the ball, so I’m anticipating seeing that tomorrow, and we’re going to have to be ready to play."
First pitch between Alliance and the Stars will be 6:45 p.m.
ALLIANCE 8, SPEARFISH POST 164 7: Alliance used a four-run sixth inning to open the Black Hills Classic with a win.
Alliance struck with a run in the top of the first inning and Post 164 answered with a run in the bottom of the fourth. Alliance scored three in the fifth but Spearfish responded with five in the bottom half of the inning, only to see Alliance score four in the sixth to take the lead back.
Spearfish scored a run in the bottom of the seventh to make things interesting, but couldn't bring the tying run across the plate.
SPEARFISH POST 164 14, CASPER 0: A big third inning helped propel Spearfish past Casper in the second game of the Black Hills Classic from Pete Lien Field in five innings.
Post 164 scored three runs in the first, one in the second and exploded for eight in the third. It also scored two in the fourth.
Spearfish got 4 2/3 innings from Parker Louks, as he only gave up two hits.
Post 164, 8-9, will face Lennox Post 174 today at noon.