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Notebook: District 5B pitchers rack up strikeouts in first round

SIOUX FALLS — Four pitchers from District 5B threw complete games and had nine or more strikeouts in the first round of the Class B state amateur baseball tournament.

Alexandria’s Trever Vermeulen had a first-round high of 16 strikeouts, coming in a 4-1 win against Flandreau. The right-hander allowed three hits and now has 40 career state tournament strikeouts in 24 innings with a 3-0 record. He pitched in his first state tournament last year, earning wins against Wessington Springs and Canova.

Alexandria player/manager Chris Marek said right-hander Tyson Gau will start today when the Angels play Groton at 6 p.m. at Sioux Falls Stadium.

Three other players from District 5B — which holds all of the teams from the Sunshine League but the Mitchell Mad Dogs — also had strong first-round outings.

Parkston Mudcats’ Brady Nolz, Parkston Rock Bass’ Tommy Murtha and Dimock/Emery’s Phil Johnson each recorded nine strikeouts in the first round. Nolz and Johnson each pitched their teams to wins, while Murtha and the Rock Bass fell 4-3 to Lesterville.

Of the five teams from District 5B, three won their first-round games, including Alexandria, Dimock/Emery and the defending champion Parkston Mudcats.

The Rock Bass and Mount Vernon were the other two representatives and lost.

Three first-round home runs this year

There was one fewer first-round home run hit at the Class B state amateur baseball tournament this year compared to last season.

Last year at Mitchell’s Cadwell Park, two players hit two homers each in the first round for a total of four. Crofton’s Scot Donner and Lennox’s Landon Danelson each had a two-homer first-round game.

This year in the first round, three players had one home run each, including Canova’s Devin Alfson, Lennox’s Chad Reilly and Dell Rapids PBR’s Landon Klock.

There were a total of eight home runs at last year’s state tournament, which was the first state tournament used with wooden bats in recent memory. To begin last season, the South Dakota Amateur Baseball Association switched rules so all teams must use wooden bats. This is the second consecutive state tournament with wooden bats.

As of Monday night, there had been seven homers hit at Sioux Falls Stadium, home of the Canaries.

Eight non-returning teams at state this year

Twenty-four teams were returners to at least their second consecutive Class B state amateur baseball tournament this year, meaning eight of the teams qualified this year didn’t make it a year ago.

Plankinton, Lesterville, Dell Rapids PBR, Chamberlain, Groton, Flandreau, Mount Vernon and Volga are the eight squads this year that didn’t play in the year-end tournament last year.

Of those eight teams, three made it to the second round. Lesterville defeated the Parkston Rock Bass 5-4 in the first round, but lost to Winner/Colome in the second round to get knocked out. Dell Rapids PBR beat Martin 11-0 to make it to the second round and knocked off Salem Monday night to earn a quarterfinal berth. Groton defeated Chamberlain 8-3 in the first round. Groton plays Alexandria at 6 p.m. today for a quarterfinal berth.