Post 18 claims Region 2A crown
By AARON SAUNDERS
The Daily Republic
SIOUX FALLS -- Post 18 did something new since coach Luke Norden took over for Mitchell.
The Legion baseball team claimed its first Region 2A championship under Norden, defeating Brandon Valley 11-10 in 11 innings Thursday at Harmodon Park in Sioux Falls.
Post 18's most recent region title came in 2008, winning the Region 1A championship. But in exciting fashion, Post 18 had to rally midway through the game and got a big hit from Jared Schmidt in the top of the 11th for this year's championship.
"It feels great," senior catcher Michael Sadler said. "Us seniors have worked so hard to get to this point. We work in the off season, which prepares us for the regular season, and it all paid off today."
When Schmidt stepped up to the plate to lead off the 11th, he knew he had to do whatever he could to get on base. Schmidt belted the second pitch of his at-bat against Brandon Valley reliever Nic Peterson to the right-field fence to kick off the inning with a triple.
With Schmidt standing 90 feet away from scoring, his twin brother, Josh, also hit a pitch to deep right field. The ball was caught by Brandon Valley right fielder Jacob Bruget, but it was deep enough to score Jared, who sprinted home, beating the throw from Bruget and scoring what was the game-winning run.
"I just had to do whatever we needed to get on base and start the rally," Jared Schmidt said. "Luckily I got up in the count with one ball and no strikes. He threw me a hanging curveball and I just turned on it, and luckily it went where I wanted it to."
Schmidt said he hoped it was a home run, but once he saw it drop he knew he had to get to third.
Early on, Mitchell looked to be in trouble.
After giving up five runs in the fourth inning and one run in the fifth, Mitchell trailed Brandon Valley 7-3 heading into the top of the sixth inning. The Post 18 bats were a bit stagnant as they struggled to figure out Brandon Valley starter Jared Mulder.
After Mitchell added one in the sixth, the team's bats came alive in the top half of the seventh inning, which saw Mitchell score six runs to wrestle the lead away from Brandon Valley.
Post 18 got its first two runners on base after Kirby Fuerst led off the inning with a double and Landon Neugebauer reached on a hit by pitch. Mitchell's Evan Mastel kicked off the scoring with a single to left field, scoring Fuerst and Neugebauer.
While Fuerst crossed the plate from the hit, Neugebauer scored because of an overthrow by Brandon Valley left fielder Lucas Lunstra. The error allowed Mastel to reach third and opened the floodgates for Mitchell, which benefitted from two more errors in the inning to build a 10-7 advantage.
Brandon Valley scored one in the bottom of the seventh, then tied the game in the bottom of the eighth after stringing together three hits and recording a double steal, which allowed Bruget to cross the plate for the tying run.
"We gave away chances, but that is why we actually won the game, because guys had a short memory," Mitchell baseball coach Luke Norden said. "We erased every mistake we had previously made and it hurts you sometimes, but today it helped us. ... We were comfortable at the plate. We are not guessing on anything and we are not doing outside of our realm. We are just comfortable and hitting well."
Tyler Houwman earned the win for Mitchell on the mound, he pitched 4 2/3 innings allowing two runs. Houwman was the fourth Post 18 hurler to toe the mound. Josh Schmidt got the start on the mound, throwing 4 1/3 innings and giving up five runs on seven hits. Jacob Rice and Aaron Sudbeck also saw mound action. Matt Larson earned the save for Post 18 after he pitched a scoreless 11th inning.
Both Brandon Valley and Mitchell will play in the state Legion tournament, which starts Wednesday in Rapid City.