Drake, Cadwell to host teener state tourney
Mitchell Black is among 12 teener teams that will step onto Drake Field and Cadwell Park today in hopes of winning the VFW Class AA majors state baseball championship.
The tournament begins today and will conclude with Sunday’s semifinals and championship.
There are three pools -- assigned by the state VFW office -- of four teams in the three-day event. Mitchell (29-16) faces Pierre Black Sox (22-12), Renner Post 307 Black (18-10) and Brookings Black (record not available) in Pool B today and Saturday. If Mitchell advances out of the pool, the team will play in the championship bracket Sunday.
Mitchell plays Post 307 Black in its opening game of the tournament at 12:30 p.m. today at Cadwell Park and also plays in the nightcap against Pierre at 8 tonight.
Every contest in the tournament will be competitive, according to Mitchell coach Dustin Wheeler.
“It’s a pretty tough bracket and we need to string five games together to win a state championship,” said Wheeler, whose team has played every team at state this year but Renner. “There are high-quality teams in the division.”
The favorite in the tournament is Rapid City Pony -- an all-star team with a record of 16-2 this season. Mitchell lost to Rapid City earlier in the season but won’t face the West River squad unless both teams advance out of pool play.
Mitchell has seven players who have started consistently on the mound and three others who have thrown in relief. The team’s pitching staff has compiled a 7.38 earned-run average this season. Offensively, the team -- which has 17 players on its roster -- has a batting average of .363.
“We have a lot of quality arms and we’re not concerned with running out of pitchers,” said Wheeler, who declined to say who will comprise the pitching staff and also opted to not discuss individual statistics.
Mitchell was at .500 at one point early in the season before reeling off 13 straight victories. The squad won regular-season tournament titles in Aberdeen and Sioux Falls, and has at least one win over all of the teams in the tournament except Rapid City and Renner. Rapid City beat Mitchell in a doubleheader at midseason, and Mitchell has not played Renner this year.
Mitchell will play all of its tournament pool games at Cadwell Park. Mitchell usually plays its home games at Drake Field but has had the opportunity to play on Cadwell’s big stage earlier this year.
“They’ve seen Cadwell and I think they do enjoy playing there and know what it means with amateur and Legion state tournaments held there,” Wheeler said. “It’s a much nicer venue and much bigger than most teams are used to.”
Teams in Pool A are Aberdeen (20-17), Huron (12-28), Sioux Falls Post 628 West (28-17-1) and Watertown (26-9-1). In Pool C are Brandon Valley (32-16), Rapid City (16-2), Sioux Falls Post 628 East (10-37) and Yankton (21-18).
VFW 13-14 AA majors state tournament schedule
Friday through Sunday in Mitchell
Friday Cadwell Park: Sioux Falls West vs. Watertown Black Sox, 10 a.m.; Mitchell Black vs. Post 307 Black, 12:30 p.m.; Rapid City Pony vs. Sioux Falls East, 3 p.m.; Aberdeen Smittys vs. Sioux Falls West, 5:30 p.m.; Mitchell Black vs. Pierre Post 8, 8 p.m.
Drake Field: Aberdeen Smittys vs. Huron Tigers, 9:30 a.m.; Brookings Black vs. Pierre Post 8, noon; Brandon Valley Thundercats vs. Yankton Lakes, 2:30 p.m.; Huron Tigers vs. Watertown Black Sox, 5 p.m.; Brookings Black vs. Post 307 Black, 7:30 p.m.
Saturday Cadwell Park: Rapid City Pony vs. Yankton Lakers, 10:30 p.m.; Huron Tigers vs. Sioux Falls West, 1 p.m.; Mitchell Black vs. Brookings Black, 3:30 p.m.; Brandon Valley Thundercats vs. Rapid City Pony, 6 p.m.
Drake Field: Sioux Falls East vs. Brandon Valley Thundercats, 10 p.m.; Aberdeen Smittys vs. Watertown, 12:30 p.m.; Pierre Post 8 vs. Post 307 Black, 3 p.m.; Sioux Falls East vs. Yankton Lakers, 5:30 p.m.
Sunday Cadwell Park: Semifinal #1, 10 a.m.; Semifinal #2, 12:30 p.m.; Championship game, 3 p.m.
Drake Field: Third-place game, 3 p.m.