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Kernels pound R.C. West, 12-2

Extreme patience in the batters' box has helped Mitchell irritate its opponent's pitchers all season. That fortitude was on display in the Kernels' 12-2 win over Rapid City West in the opening round of the Region 3A playoffs. The game ended in th...

Extreme patience in the batters' box has helped Mitchell irritate its opponent's pitchers all season.

That fortitude was on display in the Kernels' 12-2 win over Rapid City West in the opening round of the Region 3A playoffs. The game ended in the fifth inning due to the 10-run rule.

Mitchell (18-0) trailed 2-0 after the first inning, but then slowly began working out long counts to irritate West starting pitcher Jeff Caudill.

Whether it was fouling off pitches, or getting hit by pitches, the Kernels' didn't rely on pounding the ball over the field. Mitchell's batters were hit by pitches five times during the game.

"Their guys threw a lot of pitches. We did a great job of fouling pitches off. We got hit a lot as well and those came deep in the count," Mitchell head coach Luke Norden said. "Not only did we get on base, but the guy threw six or seven pitches and then hit us. Early in the game we weren't seeing as many pitches as we should have. But eventually we got their starter out early."

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An RBI single from junior shortstop Jason Schmidt got Mitchell within 2-1 after the first inning. After going 1-2-3 in the bottom of the second, Mitchell opened things up in the third by batting around and scoring six runs on five hits.

Nick Wenande led off the inning with a triple and scored to tie the game on an RBI hit from Schmidt. Mitchell took the lead for good at 3-2 when senior first baseman Trevor Salmonson smacked a single to center to score Schmidt with the bases loaded.

Left fielder Trever Vermeulen gave Mitchell an even bigger cushion when he roped a bases-clearing, three-run double over the head of West center fielder Tim Long to bring home Mitch Grieve, Austin Dorzok and Salmonson to make it 6-2 in favor of the Kernels.

"I got one right down the pipe," Vermeulen said of the pitch he saw. "I was just looking to take it the other way, or wherever the pitch was placed.

"We try to tire out other pitchers. That makes a big difference because that tires them out and we can get pitches to hit."

All of the runs came of Caudill, who was relieved by Jeremy Vifgvain after Caudill hit Josh Wenande with a pitch after surrendering the hit to Vermeulen.

Mitchell center fielder Beau VanOverschelde greeted Vifgvain rudely with an RBI single to score Vermeulen to make it 7-2.

Vifgvain eventually got out of the inning but then gave up two runs in the fourth and three in the fifth to end it. Vermeulen ended the game with a two-run double over the head of Long to score Dorzok and Salmonson with the winning runs.

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"The last couple of times that Trever has taken batting practice, he's the guy who has been hitting ropes," Norden said of Vermeulen. "He does a great job of hitting the ball to center and right field. When the wind is blowing to the right-center gap, we usually tear that apart. We did that today. Our guys like hitting the ball on the outside corner."

The Kernels will now take on Rapid City East at 5:30 p.m. Friday at Cadwell in the Region 3A title game. The winner of the game will advance to the Class A state tournament, May 28 in Aberdeen.

"Our guys will be ready to go for East," Norden said of his team's next matchup. "They're aggressive on the bases and we know that. We can't allow them to get on. We have to do as good of a job as we can to hold them. It will be a good game."

Mitchell had 11 hits and two errors in the game and West had three hits and two errors.

Mitchell starter Kirby Oldenkamp went all five innings to get the win. Oldenkamp struck out six, walked one and hit a batter.

At the plate for the Kernels, Vermeulen finished 3-for-4 with five RBI, Salmonson went 2-for-3 with an RBI, Schmidt went 2-for-3 with two RBI and VanOverschelde went 2-for-4.

For West, Kyle Singer had an RBI triple in the first inning and Chris Kirkeby and Billy Boughton each had singles.

Caudill took the loss on the mound in 2 1/3 innings of work. He gave up seven runs on five hits, walked two, struck out five and hit two.

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