It was business as usual for the Alexandria Angels on Saturday.
The defending State B amateur baseball champs made quick work of the Flandreau Cardinals 8-1 in the first round of the state tournament at Cadwell Park. It was Alexandria’s 51st win out of the last 52 games.
Alexandria ace Trever Vermeulen ran up his South Dakota amateur baseball record with his 37th straight win. Vermeulen pitched a complete game, scattered four hits, gave up one earned run and struck out 10 batters.
“When Trever is pitching, we know if we score a couple of runs, we are going to be in good shape,” Alexandria designated hitter Armando Rodriguez said. “So it’s nice to get a lot of hits and get some runs, so he can just pound the strike zone and just do what he does best.”
The Angels (23-1) did what they do best on Saturday. With Vermeulen controlling things on the mound, Alexandria’s powerful offense gave him plenty of run support. The Angels pounded out 14 hits.
“They are a great hitting ballclub and Vermeulen is just a top-notch pitcher,” Flandreau coach Todd Foster said. “We knew we were going to face somebody really tough and we just needed to score some early runs and it didn’t work out for us.”
After a scoreless first inning, the Angels started rolling in the second inning. Rodriguez jumped started the offense with a two-RBI double in the second and in the third inning, Chris Marek blasted a solo home run over the 340-foot left-field wall.
“(It was a) fastball that I found barrel,” Marek said about the homer. “You just read and react and recognize the pitch and I got my hands through and got the barrel to the ball.”
It spelled the beginning of the end for the Cardinals.
“Marek hits that long bomb and that kind of gets them going,” Foster said. “They are going to hit it pretty good and they did a good job tonight and Vermeulen kept us in check real well.”
Alexandria tacked on three more runs in the bottom of the fourth. In the frame, Jerrod Zens smoked a two-RBI single to make it 5-1. Jordan Gau then cracked a single to center field to bring in Zens from second base.
Flandreau manager/pitcher Bret Severtson then took himself out of the game and Zach Weinandt closed it out. Severtson was tagged with the loss after allowing 10 hits, six earned runs and striking out four batters in 3 2/3 innings.
“Bret, I think was up for the challenge,” Foster said. “Bret’s been our go-to pitcher all year long. So we had to put him out there.”
It was the second straight year Severtson faced Alexandria, as the Angels won last year’s tourney opener 6-3.
“He was trying to get ahead with his fastball and depended on that,” Marek said. “But we have seen him now three out of the last four years ... The more you see someone, the more confident you are when you get into the box because you kind of know what to expect.”
Weinandt pitched two scoreless innings. Alexandria added two more runs in the seventh on a John Greicar RBI single and Greicar later scored on a fielder’s choice ground ball.
Alexandria will face the Canton Aces at 5:30 p.m. at Cadwell Park in the next round of the tournament. The Angels are not familiar with the Aces, but they aren’t overlooking them.
“We don’t look past anyone,” Rodriguez said. “That is the best thing about this team. It doesn’t matter who we are playing. We just play hard and hopefully come away with a win.”