It took two Alexandria wins on Sunday for the Angels to repeat as state champions.
Roughly 14 hours after narrowly beating Harrisburg 1-0 in a rain-delayed semifinal that ended at 1:38 a.m. on Sunday morning, the Angels jumped in front of Larchwood (Iowa) early and cruised to a 4-0 win in the South Dakota Class B Amateur Baseball Tournament championship game at Cadwell Park.
“It wasn’t the worst thing in the world,” Alexandria catcher/manager Chris Marek said about his team’s quick turnaround. “We didn’t have to think about it. We got a little bit of rest, came back and we were able to take the momentum that we produced late last night and carry it over into (the championship game).”
The Angels (27-1) won their third state championship -- back-to-back for the first time -- in five straight title game appearances. Alexandria is the first Class B repeat champion since Vermillion did in 2003 and 2004 and the Angels have won 55 of their last 56 games in the past two seasons.
“We’re all no stranger to this and we just stay cool, calm and collected,” said Tyson Gau, who earned the win on the mound for the Angels. “We wanted to keep it rolling and we knew we’d have to play hard like we did (early Sunday against Harrisburg).”
Gau was the first pitcher to throw a shutout in the Class B championship game since 2005 and was named the tournament’s co-most valuable player with fellow ace Trever Vermeulen. The former Augustana University standout scattered eight hits, recorded nine strikeouts and didn’t walk a batter in nine innings pitched.
“I got my fastball established and just lived off that,” Gau said. “I threw a couple of good sliders in there too. I didn’t throw much else, my fastball was the pitch of the day.”
Behind Gau, Alexandria’s strong defense and high-powered offense did the rest as the Angels never trailed the Diamonds (20-8) in the title tilt.
“Tip of the cap to him, he did a really nice job,” Larchwood manager Patrick Sinnema said about Gau. “He did a nice job of relentlessly pounding the strike zone. He made us swing early in counts. He really beared down and made nice pitches.”
It didn’t take Alexandria long to take the lead as the Angels struck first in the bottom of the second inning. Marek led off with a bloop single and courtesy runner Luke Bamberg, a pick-up player from Corsica-Stickney, came around to score the game’s first run on a sacrifice fly by Reid Smith.
“Early leads, especially with our pitching staff, are huge,” Marek said. “Tyson was spot on. … He was spectacular.”
After posting another zero in the top of the third inning, Gau helped his own cause by launching a solo home run over the left-field fence in the bottom half of the inning to put Alexandria ahead 2-0.
The Angels offense posted two more runs in the bottom of the fifth inning. Peyton Smith scored on an RBI single by Gau, who scored the team’s fourth run on an RBI double by Jordan Gau.
That ended Larchwood starter Ryan Brasser’s day, who finished the game allowing four earned runs on six hits with three strikeouts and one walk in 4 1/3 innings pitched. Jon Van Beek tossed the final 3 2/3 innings, allowing one hit.
But the four runs proved to be more than enough for the Angels as Tyson Gau kept cruising, only letting the Diamonds reach third base once.
“We put it together. It’s not easy to do, but it’s fun to do,” Marek said about his team’s back-to-back state titles. “Every year our goal is to win a championship.”
NOTES: Winner/Colome’s Austin Richey won the batting title hitting .600 (9-for-15) in the tournament, while Garretson won the sportsmanship award.
L 000 000 000 -- 0 8 1
A 011 020 000 -- 4 7 3
WP: Tyson Gau. LP: Ryan Brasser. Pitchers: L: Ryan Brasser, Jon Van Beek (5). Doubles: A: Jordan Gau. Home runs: A: Tyson Gau (3rd, 0 on, 1 out).