Three of 4 semifinal teams from Sunshine League
By BROOKE CERSOSIMO
Well, until today that is.
Three of the four teams remaining in the Class B state amateur baseball tournament are from the Sunshine League — Dimock/Emery, Alexandria and the Parkston Mudcats.
“I don’t think that’s ever happened before and our league is getting stronger every year,” Parkston Mudcats manager Dave Roth said.
With three teams representing the league today, perhaps Sunday’s title game will change the Twitter feeds to #2inthechampionship.
“There’s always that chance that you could have multiple Sunshine League teams in the championship,” Alexandria manager Chris Marek said. “We’ve had great representation this year.”
One Sunshine League team is entitled to elimination as the Alexandria Angels and Parkston Mudcats meet at 7:30 tonight in the second semifinal game. The contest is a rematch of last year’s semifinal game. Last year, Parkston won 6-1 in the semifinals and went on to win the town’s second state championship, beating Crofton 4-3 in 13 innings.
Regardless of the Mudcats’ results last season, Roth said Alexandria is the favorite and has been this whole tournament.
“They have the deepest pitching staff,” said Roth, whose team is 1-2 against the Angels this season. “We talked about possibly meeting up with them in the semifinals a little bit, and we hoped we’d play them one more time.”
In all three meetings this season, the home team has never won. After the District 5 championship game, Marek said the location doesn’t matter when the two quality teams clash.
In the first semifinal game, Dimock/Emery takes on Winner/Colome at 1 p.m. today at Sioux Falls Stadium.
This will be Winner/Colome’s first semifinal appearance since it began five years ago. Before the towns combined for the team, Winner had yet to make the semifinals at the state tournament as well.
“It’s a big deal to get this opportunity to play in the semifinals,” said Winner/Colome manager Kevin Graesser, whose team topped Milbank, Lesterville and Akron to make the semis. “We’re kind of a new one to make it in but we’ve built up some confidence.
“This is an old hat for (Dimock/Emery), so they may have some advantage, but we’re playing pretty well and going to try to play as well as we can (today).”
Of Dimock/Emery’s three games, it has won the last two in extra innings over Colman and Dell Rapids PBR. Pitcher Phil Johnson said the Raptors are playing some of their best baseball this season.
“We’re playing great defensive baseball right now,” said Johnson, who has pitched a tournament-high 21 innings and has 17 strikeouts. “We could’ve lost all three of our close games so far and we haven’t, so I think we’ve proven we can stay calm in nerve wracking situations.
“Experience helps but at the end of the day whoever plays better that day is going to win.”