Out-of-state teams go after South Dakota's Class B amateur baseball championshipTeams from outside South Dakota are allowed to play in the state’s amateur baseball state tournament as long as they are part of a South Dakota league during the regular season.
By: Travis Mester, The Daily Republic
Teams from outside South Dakota are allowed to play in the state’s amateur baseball state tournament as long as they are part of a South Dakota league during the regular season.
That is what South Dakota Amateur Baseball Association President Dale Weber said during the Larchwood, Iowa, versus Britton quarterfinal of the Class B amateur baseball state tournament Thursday at Cadwell Park.
“As long as they play in a league, and the league accepts them in as part of their membership, then the state accepts them into the state tournament, as long as they qualify,” said Weber, who has been the president of the SDABA since 1988.
Weber added that out-of-state teams that play in the South Dakota amateur baseball state tournament are not allowed to play in another state’s state tournament.
This year’s state tournament, which began Aug. 4 and runs through Sunday’s championship game, has four out-of-state participants — Larchwood, Iowa, Crofton, Neb., Wynot, Neb., and Akron, Iowa.
As of Thursday night at press time, Larchwood and Crofton still were alive in the tournament. Larchwood was playing Britton in a quarterfinal that was delayed by stormy weather Thursday, while Crofton plays Redfield in another quarterfinal.
Though teams from outside the state’s border playing in the amateur state tournament is nothing new — Larchwood won a South Dakota state amateur title as far back as 1959 — not everyone is up to speed on why it is allowed.
“I don’t necessarily think it’s a horrible thing, but I’m not sure where it started,” Delmont manager Scott Redd said. “I don’t understand the history of it, or why those teams come up here for postseason tournaments.”
Delmont lost to Platte in a state tournament play-in game in the District 5B tournament and did not qualify for the state tournament this year. Without the out-of-state participants, there would have been room for four other South Dakota amateur teams in the 32-team field.
“I’ve talked about this with a few guys that play in leagues during the season with teams from Nebraska,” Redd said. “The only concern I have is if they aren’t held to the same standard, with regards to release players and pick-up players, as the rest of the South Dakota teams.”
Weber said all the out-of-state teams eligible for the South Dakota amateur baseball state tournament follow the same rules as teams from in-state.
“Release players are selected before the season starts,” Weber said. “They follow everything we do.”
In South Dakota, a team is allowed up to four release players from other communities to be on its roster during the regular season. After district competition, teams qualified for the state tournament get to pick up players from other teams in their district for the state tournament. The number of pick-up players each team gets is based on how many release players a team has throughout the season.
For example, if a team has four release players throughout the season, then it only gets one pick-up player for the state tournament. If a team has three release players during the year, it gets two pick-up players, and so on.
“I hear people grumble about it and people say they can play under different rules,” said Parkston Rock Bass manager Dan Jervik, whose team lost a state tournament play-in game to Alexandria in District 5B. “There are a few teams that we could point out in our local area that bend the rules as if they’re rubber bands.
“(Having out-of-state teams at the state tournament) doesn’t really bother me at all. … Everybody’s given the equal opportunity to win and get in.”
Larchwood manager Chris Underberg said his team takes advantage of being able to play in a state tournament. It gives his squad, which plays in the Sioux Empire League during the regular season, something to shoot for each summer.
The Sioux Empire League is a league that plays with wood bats during the season and includes Class A teams the Renner Monarchs, Brandon Valley, Brookings, the Sioux Falls Saints and the Renner Roadrunners. Larchwood plays all the State Line League teams — Akron, Garretson, the Vermillion Grey Sox, Renner-Newcastle, the Vermillion Red Sox, Elk Point, Dakota Valley and Canton in its district competition.
Akron beat Plankinton in the first round and lost to Humboldt/Montrose/Hartford in the second round this season.
Underberg said his team has been contacted by other teams in Iowa about getting a state amateur tournament going, but nothing has progressed.
“There is a good league (in Iowa), but all the teams are east of Des Moines, which is four hours for us to drive,” said Underberg, who has been a part of the Larchwood team in some capacity since 1993. “We’ve been contacted by them a couple times and they’re trying to get something together like South Dakota has, it just hasn’t come together yet.
“This is what we play for all year and there’s nothing else for us.”
Wynot and Crofton each are part of the South Central League. Wynot, which lost to Alexandria in the first round of this year’s state tournament, won the league title with a 15-3 regular season record to finish ahead of Yankton and Tabor. Irene, Avon, Freeman, Menno, Scotland and Lesterville also are members of the South Central League.
Wynot has been a participant in three state championship games — winning one title — since 1999. Crofton lost the state title game to Dimock/Emery last year in Sioux Falls.
“I think you can go back 79 years and there were teams like that,” said Jervik, referencing this year’s tournament program that reads “79th annual South Dakota State Amateur Baseball Tournament”. “When I was in high school in the late ’90s, that Wynot team was always really feared. They were the team we’d never know anything about.”
Redd said the anonymity of some of the out-of-state teams is what he — and people he has discussed the topic with — are weary of.
“If they play in our leagues and our tournament, I hope that someone checks up on things because you don’t’ want to see a team of all-stars come up here,” Redd said. “We don’t know those guys. … If a guy starts playing for a Sunshine League team that nobody’s heard of, people are going to notice, but when those teams come up here, we’ve never heard of any of their players so we would never know.”
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