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Walk-off gives Angels crown

Alexandria right fielder Chet McManus hits the ball during the fifth inning of the Class B state amateur baseball championship game Sunday at Sioux Falls Stadium. (Brooke Cersosimo/Republic)

SIOUX FALLS -- When Alexandria's back was against the wall, it proved why it was the top-ranked team all season.

After trailing 3-1 heading into the bottom of the ninth, the Angels scored three runs in the inning -- highlighted by a walk-off single by Tyson Gau to defeat Winner/Colome 4-3 and claim the team's first-ever Class B state amateur championship Sunday at Sioux Falls Stadium.

"It showed that anytime you're getting beat, we have the heart, fortitude and drive to come back and win a game when we need to," said Alexandria manager/catcher Chris Marek, whose team has been in position for a come-from-behind win one other time this season.

Alexandria began its surge to victory in the ninth when Winner/Colome pitcher Derek Graesser walked the first two batters -- Pierce Smith and Cory Marek. After the Pheasants got the force out at third after an unsuccessful bunt, Graesser threw a wild pitch, advancing Marek and Smith to third and second.

With one out, Cole Wenande blasted a base-clearing double to tie the game at 3. Winner/Colome intentionally walked hot-hitting Thomas Gulledge -- who went 3-for-3 with a double -- for the second time in the game.

Gau, who hadn't recorded a hit since the first inning, drove the pitch into left center field and brought in the game-winning run.

"They walked Thomas in my at-bat before that and I struck out," Gau said. "I said I wasn't going to let that happen again and I got the pitch I wanted. I kind of blanked from there. It just happened."

Gau was also named the Most Valuable Player of the Class B tournament following the title game. He went 2-for-4 with an RBI and was the winning pitcher Sunday, giving up three runs on seven hits while striking out 10 in nine innings.

Throughout the tournament, Gau threw 17 innings and had 17 strikeouts in two winning performances. He threw 245 pitches with 172 strikes.

"Tyson is one of our best, and he's a gamer that knows how to win," Chris Marek said. "It was a gutsy performance on Tyson's part. He didn't have exceptional command, but he bore down when he needed to.

"He gave up some hits in some situations that we had to get out of, but he reached down in his gut and found a way to get through that, even though it wasn't his best quality pitching performance."

The Pheasants, who didn't record any errors in the game, took an early lead in the second after taking advantage of Gau. With one out, Gau walked Ryan Richey and hit J.J. Farner with a pitch. The runners then advanced to second and third on a wild pitch.

With two outs, Tarrell Bauld hit an RBI single to left field. Richey came across for the Pheasants but Farner was tagged out at home on a throw from left fielder Peyton Smith to catcher Marek.

Winner/Colome scored again in the fourth when Gau opened the inning by walking Dane Driscoll. Driscoll went on to score after a pair of Pheasant singles to bring the score to 2-0.

The Angels got on the board in the seventh when Cory Marek hit an infield single to score John Greicar, yet the Pheasants answered in the eighth when Blake Nielsen hit a home run over the left-field wall to put Winner/Colome back up by two. But the Angels' rally in the ninth ended the Pheasants' hope for their first title.

"Derek probably threw one of the best games of his life and we came out on the short end," Winner/Colome first baseman Dillion Lambley said. "That's a good ball team. A lot of people doubted us, but we showed that we can play with anybody in the state."

Graesser took the loss on the mound, giving up four runs on eight hits, striking out six and walking eight. Graesser threw 17 1/3 innings in the tournament, throwing 268 pitches with 152 strikes.

Nielsen went 2-for-4 with two RBIs, while Bauld went 2-for-4 with one RBI and double. Austin Calhoon also had a double in the game.

NOTES -- Winner/Colome is the first West River Class B team to make a state championship game appearance, according to manager Kevin Graesser. ... The Winner/Colome Pheasants were given the team sportsmanship award after the championship game. Canova's Trevor Oswald also claimed the tournament batting title, recording a .636. Oswald tied for a tournament-high seven singles with Winner/Colome's Derek Graesser. ... The Renner Monarchs defeated the Sioux Falls Brewers 8-5 to win the Class A state amateur baseball championship. Renner has been in the title game for 11 consecutive years and has won seven times.


SIOUX FALLS -- The Winner/Colome Pheasants defeated Dimock/Emery 6-1 in the semifinals to advance to the Class B state amateur baseball championship game.

The Pheasants scored four runs in the sixth to boost them to victory. J.J. Farner got the win on the mound, throwing a complete-game four-hitter against the Raptors. Farner had three strikeouts and walked three.

The losing pitcher was Rich Wiese, giving up six runs on eight hits in 6 2/3 innings. He had three strikeouts. Josh Engquist threw in relief, giving up one hit in 1 1/3 innings.

Leading the way for Winner/Colome was Derek Graesser. going 3-for-4. Dillion Lambley went 2-for-4 with two RBIs, Ryan Richey went 1-for-4 with two RBIs and Dane Driscoll and Austin Richey each added an RBI for the Pheasants, who had a total nine hits.

For the Raptors, Audie Kuipers, Engquist, Jon Hart and Jeremy Zens each had a hit. Zens had Dimock/Emery's lone RBI.


SIOUX FALLS -- Trever Vermeulen threw a complete-game four-hitter to help advance Alexandria to the championship game of the Class B state amateur baseball tournament.

The Angels shut out defending champion Parkston Mudcats 8-0 Saturday night.

Vermeulen also added seven strikeouts and walked one. Jeff Fish was the losing pitcher, giving up three runs on four hits while striking out four in 3 1/3 innings. Trevor Arnold got the start and gave up two hits, walked five and struck out one in three innings. Brady Nolz pitched the final 2 2/3 innings, giving up five runs on one hit. Nolz walked four and struck out one.

John Greicar led the Angels offensively going 2-for-5 with a triple and three RBIs. Peyton Smith, Thomas Gulledge and Jordan Gau each had singles in the game, while Tyson Gau had a double. Cole Wenande had two RBIs for Alexandria, which outhit Parkston 7-4. Fish led the Mudcats going 2-for-4 in the game. Matt Malloy and Spencer Freudenthal also added a hit in the loss.

Brooke Cersosimo
Brooke Cersosimo is The Daily Republic's sports editor.