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Bluebirds advance to quarters after back-and-forth game

Tabor’s Wes Kloucek, left, celebrates with with Jason Humpal, right after Humpal scores the game-winning run in a second-round game of the South Dakota Class B state amateur baseball tournament Sunday at Cadwell Park in Mitchell. (Nick McCutcheon/Republic)

The Tabor Bluebirds won a back-and-forth game against Groton Locke Electric 7-6 in a game that saw five lead changes in the second round of the South Dakota Class B state amateur baseball tournament Sunday at Cadwell Park in Mitchell.

Trailing 6-5 heading into the top of the ninth inning, Tabor rallied for two runs to advance to play Clark, which topped Plankinton Sunday, in the quarterfinals of the tournament at 6 p.m. Thursday. Groton is eliminated from the tournament.

“We had to try to match them inning for inning and thankfully we were able to do that,” Tabor player/manager Jon Vavruska said. “I knew we had a chance to make a run and hopefully we can keep it rolling.”

Chris Sutera hit an RBI single driving in Jason Humpal to give Tabor the lead for good in the ninth inning.

Tabor was led by Sutera, who finished with two hits and an RBI, while Doug Vanacek added two hits in the win. Nate Kloucek, Vanacek and Humpal each scored two runs for the Bluebirds.

Rob Keppen picked up the win in relief for Tabor, throwing four innings, allowing two runs on two hits and striking out two. Vavruska started for the Bluebirds and went the first five innings, allowing four runs on eight hits with two strikeouts.

Justin Link, a pickup player from Britton, took the loss for Groton in relief. He threw four innings, allowing three runs on three hits and striking out three.

Tyler Oliver and Mitchell Locke each finished with two hits for Groton in the loss.

“Tabor definitely competed well, but in the end we felt like we beat ourselves,” Groton’ Tim Hanigan said. “It felt like we had our chances, but we never broke through.”