On Friday, one big inning was all it took for the Alexandria Angels.
The Angels, winners of 53 of their last 54 games, erased an early 2-0 deficit by erupting for eight runs in the fourth inning to cruise past Madison 12-2 (eight innings) in the quarterfinals at the Class B South Dakota State Amateur Baseball Tournament at Cadwell Park. Alexandria (25-1) advanced the semifinals for the sixth-straight season and will face Harrisburg at 7:30 p.m. today to try and advance to their fourth-straight championship game.
"We made them make plays. They booted a couple of balls to our advantage, but that's what you got to do," said Alexandria catcher/manager Chris Marek, who celebrated his 35th birthday with a victory on Friday. "We just kept fighting at the plate and put the ball in play. You capitalize on one mistake, then the momentum starts to swing."
Madison, runner-ups in the Cornbelt League, struck first as Danny Flahie scored on an double by Justin Miller, a pick-up player from Canova, in the top of the third inning.
The Broncos added another run in the top of the fourth inning, taking advantage of an Angel error and scoring on a fielder's choice.
From there, it was all Alexandria.
In the bottom of the fourth inning, the Angels scored eight runs, despite only recording three hits in the inning. Aided by four walks, three Madison errors, two wild pitches and one hit by pitch, Alexandria broke the game open.
"It was really uncharacteristic of us," Madison manager Trent Miller said about the long fourth inning. "We dug ourselves a hole we couldn't get out of."
With one out, John Greicar drew a bases loaded walk that scored Tyson Gau for Alexandria's first run. Jordan Gau scored the game-tying run on a wild pitch. Pierce Smith smacked an RBI single to score Reid Smith, who was a courtesy runner for Marek. Greicar scored the fourth run on another wild pitch. Then back-to-back Madison errors allowed Luke Bamberg and Pierce Smith to score the fifth and sixth runs, respectively. Tyson Gau blasted a two-run double to deep left-center field, which scored two runs but Cole Wenande was thrown out at home on a close play that enraged the large pro-Angel crowd.
The Broncos were able to get the final out on the next at-bat to end the marathon inning, but the damage was too much to recover from.
"I knew we were going to score runs," said Jordan Gau, who earned the win for Alexandria, allowing two runs (one earned) on just three hits with six walks and three strikeouts in eight innings pitched. "We don't get down, we don't press, we just keep playing our style of baseball."
Alexandria added another run in the top of the fifth inning and ended the game via the 10-run mercy rule with three more runs in the bottom of the eighth inning."
"It's a tough tournament just to win one because there's great teams in the state," Marek said about the team's sixth-straight semifinal appearance. "It just shows the consistency and the willpower to overcome tough situations."
Tyson Gau went 4-for-5 with three RBIs, while Jordan Gau went 2-for-3 with two RBIs, Peyton Smith added two hits and two RBIs and Pierce Smith finished 3-for-4 with an RBI.
For Madison, Heith Williams, Greg Biagi and Justin Miller each had one hit.
Heading into the semifinals, Marek added Alexandria's ace Trever Vermeulen will start against the Woodies today.
"You're going to see a pitcher's duel," Marek said. "The key is going to be putting the ball in play and taking advantage of every scoring opportunity because they may be hard to come by."
NOTES: Will Ellwanger, of Pierre, took home the South Dakota Umpire Association's scholarship.
M 001 100 000-2 3 4
A 000 081 000-12 12 1
WP: Jordan Gau. LP: Chris Brozik. Pitchers: A: Jordan Gau, M: Chris Brozik, Brock Selgestad and Mitch McNary Doubles: A: Tyson Gau. M: Justin Miller.