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Alexandria struggles, comes up short

Wynot’s Ryan Heimes (8) tags out Alexandria’s Trevor Doyle during Sunday’s state amateur baseball championship at Mitchell’s Cadwell Park. ((Luke Hagen/Republic)

Chris Marek knew the only team that could beat Alexandria in the state tournament was Alexandria.

And Sunday, Marek and the Angels put themselves in a situation to do just that.

Errors and miscues late in the game by the Angels led the Wynot (Neb.) Expos to the South Dakota Class B state amateur championship at Cadwell Park in Mitchell.

"We created an error which created an opportunity for Wynot to take advantage," said Marek, who is Alexandria's manager.

Wynot defeated Alexandria 8-2, winning its first title in 15 years. In 1999, the Expos scored nine runs in the final two innings of the state title game to beat Canova 16-7. On Sunday, Wynot scored all eight of its runs in the eighth and ninth innings to claim the championship.

"This is outstanding," Wynot manager Lee Heimes said following Sunday's awards ceremony. "These guys played hard. My hat's off to Alexandria because they're a great ball team. This was a tough game to win."

The Angels (23-3) struggled defensively in the eighth, giving up its 1-0 lead. At the end of the inning, Alexandria trailed 3-1.

After a leadoff single and two bunt singles with zero outs, Marek pulled starting pitcher Cory Marek, his brother. Trever Vermeulen, who started Saturday's semifinal game, pitched in relief. After a quick strikeout and a second out on a fielder's choice that scored a run to tie the game, Wynot took advantage of its opportunity to take the lead.

A second run scored after Vermeulen made an error on an attempt to throw out a runner stealing second. A third run was plated on an RBI single.

The Angels closed the gap in the bottom of the eighth when Peyton Smith got on base with a single and eventually came around to score.

In the ninth, Alexandria's defense continued to struggle as the Expos put away the game with five runs on three hits and one error.

"We were fortunate to get a few runners on, and then we played small ball a little bit and helped create some of those mistakes that they made," Heimes said. "We were able to take advantage then come up with a couple of big hits. Once the momentum is on your side, it's hard to swing it back the other way with only a couple of innings left."

Brett Scherschligt, a pick-up player for Wynot (Neb.) from Freeman, got the start on the mound.

"I love pitching and look forward to it, but I knew it was going to be a struggle with these guys because they're good hitters," said Scherschligt, who was named the Most Valuable Player of the Class B tournament following the game.

Scherschligt proved tough as he controlled the plate, allowing two runs, one earned, on seven hits in nine innings. John Greicar was the only Alexandria player to have multiple hits in the game, going 2-for-4. Smith went 1-for-3 with an RBI and a run scored.

"(Scherschligt) did a nice job at throwing a lot of different pitches up there around the strike zone," Chris Marek said, adding that playing three games in three days didn't affect his team. "It was completely different pitching than we had (Saturday) night, which required us to be a little more patient. We had to produce all the power and we just didn't do a good job putting the ball in play. We didn't put the pressure on them to get us out."

Cory Marek suffered the loss, giving up three runs, one earned, on four hits while striking out seven in seven innings. Vermeulen gave up five runs, one earned, on three hits and struck out three in 1 2/3 innings. Tyson Gau got the final out of the game in the bottom of the ninth but gave up a hit and a walk in the inning.

"Cory was throwing one h--- of a ball game," Chris Marek said. "In hindsight, maybe I shouldn't have pulled him because he was the best pitcher we had today. With that said, change sometimes is good, so we did that, but it just didn't work out."

Wynot (20-11) was led offensively by Kyle Wiepen, who went 2-for-4 with three RBIs and a run scored. Scott Heimes went 1-for-4 with two RBIs in the win.

NOTES: Prior to the championship game, one Class A and Class B player earned the Tony Adams Hustle Award. Recipients of this award were Clear Lake's Zachary Toben and Sioux Falls Brewers' Andy Ahrendt. ... State tournament director Jim Johnston said this year's tournament had the highest attendance of any state amateur tournament that's been held at Cadwell Park. Exact numbers were not immediately available. ... The Irene Cardinals won the sportsmanship award. ... Alexandria's Cole Wenande, who didn't play in Sunday's championship due to an injury that occurred earlier in the tournament, was named batting champion. Wenande went 6-for-9 in the tournament for a batting average of .667. He will receive an engraved wood bat.

Alexandria 3, Crofton (Neb.) 2

Chris Marek hit the game-winning double, scoring Thomas Gulledge from first base, as defending champion Alexandria came back to beat Crofton (Neb.) 3-2 in the Class B state amateur baseball tournament Saturday at Cadwell Park in Mitchell.

Trever Vermeulen pitched a complete game for the Angels, giving up two runs, one earned, off 10 hits and striking out 11 in the win.

Peyton Smith went 1-for-3 with an RBI and Cory Marek added a hit and run scored for Alexandria.

Taking the loss for the Bluejays was Rand Thygeson, who pitched nine innings, giving up three runs, two earned, off three hits and striking out eight. Mason Mueller and Nick Hegge both went 1-for-4 with an RBI each to lead Crofton.

Wynot (Neb.) 7, Clark 2

The Wynot (Neb.) Expos advanced to the South Dakota Class B state amateur baseball championship game after defeating the Clark Traders 7-2 Saturday at Cadwell Park in Mitchell.

The Expos jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the third inning after Lee Heimes hit a double and scored on a Matt Hames single. Hames scored on a Trader error.

Eric Hames pitched 5 1/3 innings and earned the win, giving up two runs off four hits while striking out four. Jackson Sudbeck finished the game for the Expos in relief of Eric Hames.

Cody Marzahn took the loss on the mound for Clark, giving up four runs, two earned, off seven hits and striking two strikeouts.

Lane Hoved and Taylor Welk both doubled to lead the Trader offense.

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