State tournament notebook
By KEVIN POTTEBAUM
With one round complete at the South Dakota Class B state amateur baseball tournament, tournament director Jim Johnston is hoping the rest of the tournament offers up as much excitement as the fans attending the games in Mitchell have already seen.
Of the 16 games played in the opening round, nine of those games ended with the winning team ahead by two or less runs. Another game saw the Sunshine League’s Parkston Mudcats top Redfield Dairy Queen 5-1 in 11 innings.
“It just seems like over the last couple of years we’ve had a lot of close games,” Johnston said. “I think the playing field has leveled among all the different leagues in the state and it’s made this a better tournament.”
In each of the previous two state tournaments, the first round finished with six contests decided by two runs or less.
Along with close contests, fans have seen some of the top-ranked teams in the state battling to stay alive.
The Mudcats narrowly escaped with a win after entering the tournament ranked third in the state. The No. 1 ranked Alexandria Angels, another Sunshine League team, was almost shocked as Avon scored two runs in the final inning to come within one run before the Angels finished the game up 4-3. Avon entered the tournament with an 8-10 record.
“Teams don’t come here with the mindset that they have an easy game anymore,” Johnston said.
Two teams ranked in the top five weren’t as fortunate as Alexandria and got beat by teams that entered the postseason with losing records.
No. 4 Canova was upset by a Platte team that took a 7-10 record into play, while No. 5 Dimock-Emery fell 2-1 in 12 innings against the 9-10 Larchwood Diamonds.
“I’m never surprised to see one team knock off another,” Johnston said. “The rankings are difficult to make because most games are within a team’s own league and you don’t get to see them play a lot.”
Sunshine League advances three
With three state championship teams in the last four seasons, the Sunshine League has become a powerhouse in Class B amateur baseball.
This year has been no different with three teams ranked in the top five heading into the state tournament.
After round one, three of the league’s teams are still in contention to win another championship. Those teams include last year’s champions, the Alexandria Angels (20-2), along with the Parkston Mudcats (28-4), who took home the title in 2012. Platte (8-10) also advanced to the second round of the tournament while 2010 champion Dimock/Emery (23-8) was knocked out in the first round along with Corsica/Stickney (8-8).
The Mudcats are next up for Sunshine League teams as they face Harrisburg (10-12) at 6 p.m. Tuesday, while Alexandria and Platte both play on Wednesday. The Angels take on the Redfield Pheasants (19-9) at 6 p.m. and the Killer Tomatoes go up against Flandreau (12-9) at 8 p.m.