Post 22 wins another titleThe state Legion baseball tournament finished up early Sunday evening after a five-day event that saw a little bit of everything. There were upsets, blowouts, walk-off home runs and a rain delay that forced the tournament to restructure its format to get all the action in. But after all the dust settled, the favorite rose above the rest.
By: Travis Mester, The Daily Republic
The state Legion baseball tournament finished up early Sunday evening after a five-day event that saw a little bit of everything.
There were upsets, blowouts, walk-off home runs and a rain delay that forced the tournament to restructure its format to get all the action in.
But after all the dust settled, the favorite rose above the rest.
Rapid City Post 22 beat Sioux Falls East 6-1 in the championship game Sunday evening to win its second-consecutive state Legion championship and 37th overall title. Post 22 went 4-1 in the tournament with its only loss coming in an 11-9 decision against Aberdeen on Saturday night.
But a stellar pitching performance from Kolton Emery made that loss seem like a distant memory.
Emery allowed one unearned run on three hits in a complete-game masterpiece. He struck out five and did not walk a batter in a performance that came just three days after he tossed nine innings in an extra-inning win over Sioux Falls West in the first round.
“My arm was feeling like it hasn’t before all year,” said Emery, who threw just 77 pitches in the game. “It was almost 100 percent. I was hitting my spots and everything was going really well.”
East, which topped Watertown 9-8 on Saturday, beat Aberdeen 18-10 earlier in the day Sunday to earn the right to face Post 22 for the championship.
“In baseball, you can be down, but you’re never out,” Post 22 manager Dave Ploof said of his team’s mindset after losing for the first time in the tournament. “The kids regrouped and we came back (Sunday) and got the outstanding pitching from Kolton Emery. He just dominated. We got the good defense and the timely hitting behind him. It was just a fantastic game.”
Post 22 picked its spots offensively to do its damage.
Jordan Carlson delivered a two-RBI single in the fifth inning, while Jarrett Jensen put the game away with a two-run single in the eighth. Carlson’s hit, which scored Parker Sullivan and Emery, was part of a three-run fifth inning that gave the Hardhats a 4-0 lead that they would not give up on their way to back-to-back championships.
“Last year, we had a good team, but with this team, our chemistry is so much better,” Post 22 second baseman Donte Bledsoe said. “We play together a lot better.”
Carlson finished 3-for-5 with two RBIs and scored a run and Newt Johnson went 2-for-4 and scored once to lead Rapid City, which recorded 11 hits in the game.
For East, which lost to Post 22 3-2 in a third-round game Friday night, Drew Rehurek took the loss. Rehurek threw the first seven innings and allowed six runs — four earned — on nine hits. He struck out two, but walked six batters.
Alex Schultz, Brooks Cross and Marcus Tramp were the only batters to collect a hit against Emery for coach Brandon Hunt’s East squad.
“The kid is lights out. He’s one of the better pitchers, if not the best pitcher we’ve faced all year,” Hunt said of Emery. “They’re a very good team, very deserving of a championship.”
Sullivan, Post 22’s leadoff man and centerfielder, went 1-for-4 and scored twice in the championship game and was named the tournament’s most valuable player. He batted .429, had two doubles and two triples, scored seven runs and drove in five more. He walked six times in the tournament and did not commit in error in five games.
“He steps up whenever we need him to step up,” Bledsoe said of Sullivan. “The first person I’d want to have up at the plate is Parker Sullivan, in any situation.”
By winning the state Legion championship, Rapid City will advance to play the Kansas state Legion champion Aug. 5 in the first round of the National Legion tournament.
“This is probably the best team I’ve ever been on,” said Emery, who will be eligible to return to the Post 22 roster next summer if he elects to do so. “We have a lot talent. We just have to come out focused every day and I think we’ll do pretty well.”
Sioux Falls East 18, Aberdeen 10
Connor Schaefbauer and Taylor Rasmussen each had four hits to help Sioux Falls East defeat Aberdeen 18-10 in an elimination game Sunday afternoon at the state Legion baseball tournament at Cadwell Park.
By winning, Sioux Falls East advanced to play Rapid City Post 22 in the championship game.
Alex Schultz threw seven innings for East. He allowed 12 hits, nine runs, and three walks. He struck out two.
Schultz, Cory Steffen, Jared Miller, Jordan Merritt and Marcus Tramp each had three hits for East, which piled 26 hits in the game.
For Aberdeen, Michael Wegehaupt threw 3.1 innings. He allowed nine earned runs and 12 hits.
Taylor Morsching had three hits for Aberdeen, which allowed nine runs in the fourth inning.
Sioux Falls East 9, Watertown 8
Sioux Falls East defeated Watertown 9-8 in an elimination game Saturday at the state Legion baseball tournament.
Brady Cross threw 8.2 innings for East. He allowed 11 hits, eight runs — seven earned — and two walks. He struck out two.
East held a 9-1 lead heading into the bottom of the ninth, when Watertown scored seven runs. Watertown had the tying run on second base, but the last batter of the game struck out looking.
Cole Halgerson had four hits and five RBIs for Sioux Falls East, which had 14 total hits. Brooks Cross, Taylor Rasmussen, Alex Schultz and Jared Miller each had two hits.
Watertown’s Eric Danforth threw eight innings. He allowed 13 hits, six earned runs and two walks. He struck out four.
Ryan Engels, Tanner Neale and Blake Turbak each had two hits.
Aberdeen 11, Rapid City 9
Aberdeen handed Rapid City Post 22 its first loss of the tournament Saturday evening.
Christian Cox threw six innings to help the Smittys beat Post 22 11-9.
Cox, who also had three hits in the game, gave up four hits, five runs and two earned runs. He walked 10 and struck out eight.
Chad Ellingson went 6-for-6 with two RBIs in the game. Mitchell Babcock, Evan Nolte and Brendon Hoellein each had two hits.
For Post 22, Jarrett Jensen started and threw three innings. He allowed five hits, two earned runs and two walks.
Jensen had two hits at the plate, while Rapid City had five other players with one hit apiece.