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Post 18 staves off elimination, beats Spearfish

Mitchell’s Derek Miller fields a bunt during an elimination game against Spearfish at the State A Legion Tournament at Fitzgerald Stadium in Rapid City. (Aaron Saunders/Repubilc)

RAPID CITY -- Facing elimination at the Class A Legion baseball tournament, the Mitchell Post 18 Legion team answered the bell.

Mitchell pounded out 17 hits and rallied to defeat Spearfish 15-8 on the second day of the tournament. Post 18 (37-13) advances to play at 6 p.m. Central time today at Fitzgerald Stadium in Rapid City. Mitchell plays the loser between Rapid City Post 22 and Pierre -- a game that was not finished when this edition went to press due to sporadic weather delays.

Down 7-6 heading into the top of the seventh, Post 18 was running out of time and was on the brink of a season-ending loss. But the Mitchell lineup showed up just in the nick of time, scoring nine runs in the inning.

The offense got rolling after Aaron Sudbeck drew a one-out walk, Sudbeck was then lifted in favor of Kirby Fuerst, who came on to run bases. In the next at-bat, Michael Sadler hit what seemed to be a tailor-made double-play ball to third base. But play was halted by the umpire, who called catcher’s interference on Spearfish catcher Wade Vandine.

That opportunity was just what Post 18 needed and it made the most of it by dialing up six hits, which included a two-RBI double to left centerfield from Matt Larson to give Mitchell an 8-7 lead.

Jared and Josh Schmidt, along with Derek Miller, also had RBI singles in the inning.

"We had to scratch and claw our way back into the game," Mitchell baseball coach Luke Norden said. “We took advantage on a key catching mistake, which started the inning for us. Then to be able to get as many hits as we could was also a key for us."

For the second straight day, Post 18 fell behind early. Mitchell scored two runs in the first inning, after Jared Schmidt and Larson executed a double steal. Schmidt crossed the plate on a passed ball a two batters later with Dylanger Pierson in the box.

"Once things got going, I think we had nine or 10 hits at one point and only three runs to show for it," Norden said. "It was good to see that we were finally able to score some runs."

Although Mitchell got on the board first, Spearfish had the last laugh in the first inning. Post 164 scored five runs in the inning, which was highlighted by a grand slam from the bat of Vandine, giving Spearfish a 4-2 lead. Post 164 added to that lead on an RBI single by Daulton Johnson, which scored Drew Dutton.

Mitchell closed the gap in the top of the third after an RBI single to right center scored Larson, cutting the lead to 5-3.

The Post 18 offense was back at it again in the top of the fifth when it tied the game at five-all. Jared and Josh Schmidt got things started with back-to-back infield singles. Miller followed with a single of his own to load the bases. Lakin Neugebauer drew an RBI walk, which scored Jared Schmidt and cut the lead to one run.

After a strikeout, Sadler drew another walk for Mitchell, which scored Josh Schmidt and chased Post 164 starter Jay Darling out of the game. Darling went 4 2/3 innings, allowing five runs on eight hits.

"This was a great game," said Miller, who had two RBI singles in the win. "After a tough loss (Wednesday) we hit the ball hard every single time and we never gave up. That is the best thing about this team. We may get down early but we never give up."

Miller started on the mound for Mitchell, giving up eight runs on 14 hits in 8 1/3 innings. The game was postponed for roughly 20 minutes in the ninth inning with one out. After the delay, Tyler Houwman came in to record the final two outs for Post 18.