Bats keep Mitchell alive in Region playoffsYANKTON — Mitchell scored 39 total runs in two wins Wednesday, keeping the team alive in the Region 2A Legion baseball playoffs. Post 18 tallied nearly one-third of the day’s runs in the third inning against Brandon Valley when it scored 11 runs en route to a 19-3 five-inning blowout win over the same team that knocked it from the winners’ bracket.
By: Luke Hagen, The Daily Republic
YANKTON — Mitchell scored 39 total runs in two wins Wednesday, keeping the team alive in the Region 2A Legion baseball playoffs.
Post 18 tallied nearly one-third of the day’s runs in the third inning against Brandon Valley when it scored 11 runs en route to a 19-3 five-inning blowout win over the same team that knocked it from the winners’ bracket.
“We thought we owed them from (Tuesday),” Mitchell center fielder Cade Hearnen said. “I don’t know if it was a revenge thing, but we definitely wanted to be the ones to send them home.
“The mindset today was to play loose, because it could have been the last game we played together. We just wanted to go out there and lay everything on the line, and that’s kind of how we played today.”
Mitchell defeated Yankton 20-12 by virtue of a 24-hit attack, getting at least two hits from all but one starter.
After grabbing two wins Wednesday at Riverside Park, Mitchell is one win away from getting its ticket punched to the state Legion tournament. Post 18 will play Sioux Falls East at 4 p.m. today at Riverside in a win-or-go-home game.
When Post 18 forced Brandon Valley’s starting pitcher from the game after two innings Wednesday, the offense set into a groove. Alex Loes, Jordan Piper, Kyle Larson and Sean DeVries had four consecutive RBI plate appearances to push the lead to 7-0. In the wild third inning, Mitchell batted 16 men, scoring 11 runs on six hits and stretching the lead to 12.
“It seemed like we were hitting three-quarters of the game, because our defense got us on and off the field,” Post 18 coach Luke Norden said.
Loes, Mitchell’s starting pitcher, responded by facing only three batters in the bottom of the inning when he struck out the first batter, gave up a hit and snagged a comebacker to start a 1-6-3 double play.
Loes pitched all five innings for Post 18, giving up two earned runs, seven hits and zero walks. He struck out five batters.
“Loes hasn’t thrown against these guys this year,” Norden said. “It was basically a match up thing.
“He got ahead of guys, his off speed was fantastic and he had guys thinking.”
Norden said Hearnen, who hasn’t pitched against East this year, will start today. Mitchell is 1-2 against East this year, with the only win coming in the Fargo-Moorhead tournament when Piper pitched.
Post 18 tacked on six more runs in the fourth inning and got a two-RBI triple by Loes, who was 2-for-2 with two walks and three RBIs. Loes was one of four Mitchell players that had two hits, and another was second baseman Ryan Buck.
“I said something to Buck (Tuesday) after we got done about coming up with the bases loaded twice and nobody out, and in both situations being a little too aggressive,” Norden said. “He wasn’t looking to do too much. He was looking to get on base for our big hitters, setting the table for the rest of the lineup.”
Added Buck: “We were staying relaxed and having fun today. We were trying to play baseball the right way, not being so tight.”
Buck, who recorded his only out of the day in his final at-bat on a sacrifice fly, went 2-for-2 with two walks against Brandon Valley and 3-for-3 with three walks against Yankton.
After falling to Brandon Valley 12-10 Tuesday, Post 18 needed a win over Yankton for a chance at its redemption. Yankton kept up with Mitchell through four innings with the score tied at six, but Post 18 batted 11 men in the fifth, getting RBI hits from Buck, Young, Patrick, Loes and Larson to take a 12-6 lead.
“I think the focus was just on scoring runs and hitting,” Norden said. “I don’t think we were thinking much about pitching and defense. We just wanted to go out and score more runs than they did.”
Mitchell scored three more runs in the sixth, but Yankton crept up to get the score within 15-12 after plating five runs in the eighth off relief pitcher Jamie Huber. Piper started for Mitchell, going seven innings. He gave up five earned runs — four of which were in the first inning — and 13 hits.
Post 18 answered Yankton’s five-run inning with five of their own in the eighth. Mitchell batted through its order, getting RBI hits from Buck, Young and DeVries.
“Our approach at the plate today was phenomenal,” Hearnen said.
Huber pitched a 1-2-3 ninth inning with a strikeout and two ground outs to help advance Post 18 to play Brandon Valley.
Notes: Patrick and Young each had a total of seven RBIs in the two games. ... Larson and DeVries each had four hits against Yankton to lead the team. ... After going 8-for-13 and scoring six runs Tuesday, Brandon Valley’s 7-8-9 hitters went 2-for-6 with two runs. ... Since Loes only pitched five innings Wednesday, he’s still eligible to pitch seven more innings in the tournament, as all pitchers can pitch a total of 12 innings throughout. Norden said he didn’t think he would put Loes on the mound today, but if the team plays Friday, he would be available.
“He’s a guy that doesn’t need much rest,” Norden said.