With the postseason looming, Mitchell Post 18 Legion baseball team got comfortable with playing on the road this weekend.
Post 18 went 4-2 at the 96-team prestigious Gopher Classic in the Twin Cities, falling to Millard West, Nebraska, 6-3 on Monday. Nevertheless, the tournament was the first time Mitchell had advanced to 16-team elimination bracket in coach Luke Norden's tenure.
"I was really happy that we got better this weekend and on the road playing in that kind of environment," Norden said. "That was a big step for us. Playing meaningful games, too, in kind of a do-or-die situation. So that's what it is going to be come playoff time as well in a week and a half."
The regional tournament is July 25-27 in Sturgis.
On Monday, Mitchell (23-21) scored three runs in the first inning for a 3-1 lead. However, it couldn't manage another run.
"The pitcher threw really well out of the full windup and in those middle innings we couldn't get started and couldn't get some guys on base," Norden said. "If we could have put some pressure on and got some guys on base, I think it kind of would have been a different story."
Millard West evened the score at 3-3 in the fourth inning, while pulling ahead with three more in the top of the sixth.
"They squeezed bunt for the go ahead run," Norden said. "We thought we had a play at the plate. Calvin (Hegg) just couldn't get the ball out of his glove and I thought we had a really good chance at getting him out. We had a ground ball go through us on the left side of the infield. We make those two plays and we probably still have a tie ballgame."
Offensively, Austin Kerr, Sam Michels, Peyton Nash and Drew Kitchens each had a hit. Hawkins, Nash and Carter Max each drove in a run.
Hegg took the loss, scattering seven hits, six runs (four earned) and striking out two batters in 5 1/3 innings.
"I was happy with the way we played and obviously guys were disappointed with that we lost," Norden added. "But we should be really eager to get back on the field and play again here again this week."
Post 18 was scheduled to host Rapid City Post 320 today, but that game has been canceled. Mitchell will host Watertown on Thursday in a 5 p.m. doubleheader at Cadwell Park. Post 18 will also host Brandon Valley in one game at 7 p.m. on Friday at Cadwell Park.