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Peaking at the right time

Alexandria's Jordan Gau, right, celebrates with Cole Wenande, left, after scoring a run in a game against the Mitchell Mad Dogs on June 17 at Cadwell Park in Mitchell. (Nick McCutcheon/Republic)

PARKSTON -- Three 2013 state semifinalist teams from the Sunshine League enter the District 5 amateur baseball tournament after strong regular seasons, while the rest of the league is looking to emerge at the right time.

Dimock/Emery manager Brad Bartscher believes that the top teams have been strong all year, but no team in the tournament, which starts today at The Pond in Parkston, can be overlooked.

"As the year went on, the teams in this league got stronger," Bartscher said. "Anything can happen no matter who you are playing. That was proven if you look at some of the scores later in the year."

Third-seeded Dimock/Emery, the fifth-ranked team in Class B, plays Mount Vernon at 8 p.m. Friday. Bartscher said the Cardinals are playing their best baseball of the season.

"We saw Mount Vernon toward the end of the year and they have definitely improved," Bartscher said. "Going into a first-round game, they are a team we can't overlook."

Mount Vernon topped Dimock/Emery in the first round of the District 5 tournament in 2013.

The 2014 event runs through Aug. 1 and five teams will earn spots in the 32-team state tournament Aug. 6-17 at Cadwell Park in Mitchell. The five teams earning spot at the state tournament will include the District 5 tournament champion and four representatives to be decided in the 11-game event.

The District 5 tournament kicks off with the top-seeded Alexandria Angels looking to build on a strong regular season in the Sunshine League and return to the state tournament to defend their 2013 title.

"I would say the last five or six games are the best we have played all year," Angels manager Chris Marek said.

The Angels, who won the District 5 tournament in 2013, play the No. 8 seeded Parkston Bullheads in the first game of the double-elimination tournament at 6 p.m. today at The Pond in Parkston. The Angels' lone loss in the Sunshine League this season came at The Pond in a game against the Parkston Mudcats.

"The experience from last year taught us to go out and be aggressive and attempt to not allow teams to stay in ball games," Marek said of what his team learned from its 2013 state championship to carry into the 2014 postseason.

The District 5 tournament is made up of eight Sunshine League teams. Sunshine League member, the Mitchell Mad Dogs, play in Class A and will not take part in the District 5 tournament.

The No. 3-ranked Parkston Mudcats are the second seed in the District 5 tournament and open against Tripp/Delmont at 8 p.m. today at The Pond. Parkston made it to the state semifinals in 2013, along with Alexandria and Dimock/Emery.

Corsica/Stickney is playing some of its best baseball heading into the District 5 tournament. Horned Frogs manager Bob Bamberg said his team's goal is to play well and lock up one of the five spots available for the state tournament.

"The last few games we've played, our bats have really come around," Bamberg said. "I would say we really peaked at the right time."

Marek said Corsica/Stickney is a team that can beat any team in the tournament. The Horned Frogs play Platte in the first round at 6 p.m. Friday.