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A model of consistency

There really is no secret to the Alexandria Angels' success. The Angels are built on dynamite pitching and balanced hitting, but above all else, it's the dedication for amateur baseball that has sparked their recent run. "You play for the love of...

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There really is no secret to the Alexandria Angels' success.

The Angels are built on dynamite pitching and balanced hitting, but above all else, it's the dedication for amateur baseball that has sparked their recent run.

"You play for the love of the game," Alexandria catcher/manager Chris Marek said. "I think that's really what has been the backbone leading to our success is just the brotherhood and the love for the game that everybody brings every night."

With essentially the same group of players, the Angels have dominated Class B baseball the past six years. Entering the state tournament, Alexandria has a record of 144-14 since 2013 and has appeared in five straight state title games, with titles in 2013, 2016 and 2017.

"I would take just as much pride in the fact we have played in it for five straight years," Marek said. "Because a single-elimination tournament with 32 teams, just getting there is a feat in of itself."

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After finishing as state runner-ups in 2015, the Angels ran the table in 2016 and won the title again in 2017 with a 27-1 mark. This season, Alexandria is 17-2 heading in the Class B state tournament, which is Aug. 1-12 at Ronken Field in Sioux Falls.

Aside from Winner/Colome upending the Angels twice, including for the District 5B title on July 27, the Angels are still singing the same tune.

"I don't think the story is a whole lot different than what it has been in the past," Marek said. "Obviously when you start winning, it becomes the environment that you know and so we've had such good success over the last five or six years."

This season, Alexandria has again rode the arms of Tyson Gau (3.08 ERA, 74 strikeouts), Trever Vermeulen (0.67 ERA, 56 strikeouts) and Jordan Gau (3.24 ERA, 30 strikeouts).

"Once again, pitching has kind of been the staple," Marek said. "It's kind of held us together and has led the charge."

Offensively, Tyson Gau (.329 batting average, seven home runs), Jordan Gau (.304, 17 RBIs), Cole Wenande (.430, six home runs, 29 RBIs) and Peyton Smith (.317, 21 RBIs) pace the offense.

"They set the tone at the top of the order and hitting is a contagious thing," Marek said. "If you set the tone and start hitting the ball, it becomes a fun game."

Additionally, Pierce Smith (.321) and Reid Smith (.324, 13 RBIs) produce at the plate. Billy Hamilton is a new addition this season and has been used all over the field. Previously with Plankinton, Hamilton is hitting .286 and has knocked in nine runs.

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"He's done a nice job for us kind of playing that utility position," Marek said. "Coming to the ballpark every night, he doesn't really know where he is going to be. Whether he is going to be in the outfield, infield or behind the plate catching. He's just done a nice job being a utility player and filling that role for us."

Up next, the Angels will head to Sioux Falls and it's no secret what the goal is: a three-peat.

"When the regular season is over, it's a whole new season," Marek said. "Not to say that you don't have something to play for in the regular season, but once playoffs hit, that's kind of when the aspirations become the focus. So I just think the mindset and the mentality with everybody is playing with is a notch higher."

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