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Mitchell splits on first day at region tourney

Mitchell second baseman Spencer Neugebauer fields a ball during a game against Sioux Falls West Tuesday at the Region 2A Legion baseball tournament at Yankton’s Riverside Field. (Eric Mayer/Republic)1 / 2
Mitchell third baseman Kanin Nelson fires to first to retire a Sioux Falls East runner Tuesday at the Region 2A Legion baseball tournament at Yankton’s Riverside Field. (Jeremy Hoeck/Yankton Press & Dakotan)2 / 2

YANKTON -- After seven innings of shutout baseball that featured few errors and plenty of strong defensive plays, No. 4 Mitchell could no longer contain No. 1 Sioux Falls West.

The second game of Mitchell's postseason run didn't feature many hits, as both pitchers dueled late into the game, but a four-run eighth inning carried West over Post 18 4-0 on Tuesday night at the Region 2A tournament in Yankton.

Mitchell's postseason began with a 6-1 victory over No. 5 Sioux Falls East early Tuesday afternoon, advancing Post 18 into the nightcap.

Mitchell coach Luke Norden said West played to its strengths, feeding off a strong performance by starting pitcher Stuart Baruth. Baruth threw a two-hitter and struck out 11 Mitchell batters.

"That's what they do," Norden said. "They throw a couple of guys that throw really well, but their offense wasn't going to overpower us.

"We played really well. We just didn't do enough individually at the plate."

Post 18 (25-16) plays at 7 p.m. today against the winner of No. 5 Sioux Falls East vs. No. 3 Brandon Valley, which is scheduled for 1 p.m. With a loss, Mitchell's season ends. With a win, Mitchell stays alive another day.

Both starting pitchers set the tone early in the game, keeping hitters off balance and off the base paths. Post 18 starting pitcher Derek Miller pitched six shutout innings, allowing three hits heading into the eighth. Miller finished the game throwing 8 1/3 innings, allowing three runs off five hits with five strikeouts.

"Derek's just so full of energy," Mitchell first baseman Dylanger Pierson said. "To pitch this good against West and to use his defense, it was fun to see."

Both teams had chances to score prior to the eighth but couldn't capitalize.

West threatened with a runner on third in the bottom of the fifth, but Miller was able to force a ground ball to shortstop Landon Neugebauer, who touched second and threw a dart to first to complete an inning-ending double play.

With only one hit through the first five innings, Post 18 had a chance to score after a leadoff hit over first base by Jacob Cersosimo in the top of the sixth inning. Cersosimo made his way to third base after two fielder's choice plays. Pierson, who singled in the first, hit a sharp grounder in the gap between the first and second basemen, but a diving catch by West robbed Pierson of an RBI single and ended Post 18's scoring chance.

"You've got to get a hit with two outs," Norden said. "We very seldom had guys on, and we just needed a better approach at the plate to get something done."

Mitchell failed to produce another hit after Cersosimo's in the top of the sixth.

Pierson said he thought his hit was going to make it through to score Cersosimo.

"I hit it and thought it was going to make it past him," Pierson said. "That's just baseball. Sometimes they go through and sometimes they don't, and West is really good defensively."

In the eighth, West started its rally with a leadoff hit and a Mitchell error with no outs. After a sacrifice bunt that advanced the runners, West got a one-out base hit down the first baseline, breaking the scoreless tie. Miller then gave up a long single in the left-field gap, scoring a runner from first and making the score 3-0.

Ben Miller came in to finish the inning but gave up a base hit, making the score 4-0 at the end of the inning.

In Mitchell’s first game of the tournament against Sioux Falls East, Michael Sadler had four strikes in nine innings. Sadler went 2-for-4 with a double and three runs scored.

Mitchell had six hits in the opener, with Matt Larson, Miller, Kanin Nelson and Neugebauer all hitting singles.

After allowing a run in the top of the first inning, Post 18 scored three runs in the bottom of the inning and added two more in the fifth. Mitchell’s final run of the game came in the eighth.

Justin Miller suffered the loss, giving up six runs on six hits.