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Three-run homer dooms Salem at state

Salem third baseman Chad Hunt dives to field a ground ball during a second-round Class B state amateur baseball tournament game against Dell Rapids PBR Monday night in Sioux Falls. (Luke Hagen/Republic)

SIOUX FALLS — One fifth-inning pitch ended Salem’s season.

Dell Rapids PBR’s Nate Henry hit a three-run homer deep to right field in the bottom of the fifth off Salem reliever Landon Peterson. Henry’s no-doubter broke a 1-all tie game, helping Dell Rapids defeat Salem 4-1 Monday in the second round of the Class B state amateur baseball tournament in Sioux Falls.

“A situation came up and they took over the situation,” Salem first baseman Steve Mehlbrech said. “It was a one-pitch game and we both played tough until the final at-bat.”

Salem defeated Dell Rapids PBR twice in the regular season and took a one-run lead in the top of the second on an RBI single from Mehlbrech.

PBR tied the game in the bottom of the second, and worked two one-out walks in the bottom of the fifth. Salem manager Roger Duxbury pulled starter Cameron Kerkhove and put in Peterson, who threw three pitches in the game, the last of which was the homer.

“When (Kerkhove) walked the second guy, you know you have to make a pitching move,” manager Roger Duxbury said. “Just made the wrong one.”

Henry had two singles in his first two at-bats and finished the night 3-for-4 with three RBIs and a run scored. Dell Rapids (15-14) had eight hits to Salem’s six.

“He’s just a great player,” PBR manager Jay Bentz said of Henry, who previously played for the now-defunct Dell Rapids Mudcats. “It’s funny how it goes when guys come to new teams. They feel like they have to show they can play. He doesn’t need to show us anything.”

Salem’s Brian Duxbury scored the first run of the game in the top of the second inning. He led off with a sharp grounder to short that was ruled a single. He advanced to second on a wild pitch and scored on a two-out, RBI single to center by Mehlbrech, who finished the night 2-for-3 with an RBI and a walk. He was the only Salem player with more than one hit.

“We came out here and gave (Dell Rapids) a run for their money,” Mehlbrech said. “They’re a tough team to beat in the tournament.”

Kerkhove gave up five hits in 4 1/3 innings, striking out one and walking one. He took the loss. After Peterson was pulled after pitching to one batter, pick-up player Mitch McNary, of Madison, came in.

Besides Mehlbrech’s two-hit night, Brian Duxbury, Jake Petersen, McNary and Josh Cleveland each had one hit for Salem, which ended the year 11-15.

PBR starter Colin Karst earned the win, throwing seven innings and allowing six hits. He struck out two, walked two and gave up one earned run.