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Amateur teams look to finish strong before state tourney

Dimock/Emery pitcher Josh Engquist throws the ball during a state tournament game last year in Sioux Falls. (Republic file photo)

The Alexandria and Dimock/Emery baseball teams aren't new to the championship scene as both have won District 5 and state amateur titles within the last five years.

The two meet in Friday's district championship game in Parkston and have each earned berths to the Class B state amateur tournament, which begins Aug. 6 at Cadwell Park in Mitchell. Despite having booked their spots at state, each have something to play for.

The Raptors (25-8), which beat the Parkston Mudcats in the district semifinals, topped the Angels in the district semifinals in 2011, but haven't beaten Alexandria since.

"We can get close but their pitching is that good," Dimock/Emery manager Brad Bartscher said. "Trever Vermeulen is one of the top in the state and Tyson Gau is right there with him.

"If you get down a run or two against their pitching, it's tough to score. Teams have to play a fundamentally sound game to play with them or beat them."

Vermeulen (6-1) struck out 77 batters in 48 2/3 innings pitched, while Gau (7-3) followed with 71 strikeouts.

"Trever commands the strike zone," Chris Marek, Alexandria catcher and manager said. "He makes it difficult to hit anything square."

Vermeulen is the Angels' starting pitcher Friday, while Dimock/Emery is putting Josh Engquist on the mound. Engquist (7-1) recorded 93 strikeouts and an ERA of 1.64 during the regular season to lead the Raptor pitching staff.

Marek said the Angels are looking for a strong finish heading into the state tournament. Alexandria's record is 23-2.

"You want to be playing your best baseball at this point in the season," said Marek, whose team won the 2013 state tournament. "You lose and go home at state and we don't want a letdown before heading into our first round."

The Raptors and Angels have handedly outscored most of their opponents this season. Dimock/Emery outscored its opponents 239-109 during the regular season and was led offensively by Jason Schmidt, who had a batting average of .506 with 22 RBIs, 17 doubles, two triples and two home runs. Phil Johnson and Jared Schmidt each batted over .400 at .447 and .404, respectively.

For the Angels through their first two district games, Cole Wenande leads with a .411 batting average. Gau is right behind Wenande batting .390. Thomas Gulledge is third for the Angels with a .380 batting average.

The District 5 tournament continues today in Parkston as two more teams will book spots in the state tournament. The Parkston Mudcats play Corsica/Stickney at 6 p.m., with Mount Vernon and Platte facing off in the night cap at 8 p.m.

The winners earn berths to the state tournament and the losers meet for one final shot at making state in a game on Friday.

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