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In tight contest, Yankton ends Kernels' season

Mitchell's Peyton Nash dives back to first base following a pickoff attempt as Yankton's Rex Ryken awaits the throw during a Class A first-round playoff baseball game Friday at Harmodon Park in Sioux Falls. (Marcus Traxler / Republic)

SIOUX FALLS—The Mitchell High School baseball team didn't get enough offense Friday night at Harmodon Park.

Mitchell mustered just four hits and couldn't capitalize on its chances to bring home runners in scoring position, as ninth-seeded Yankton eliminated the eighth-seeded Kernels 2-1 in the first round of the Class A high school baseball playoffs.

"We just didn't give ourselves very many opportunities," Mitchell head coach Luke Norden said. "We hold a team like that to two runs and we should be able to capitalize on that."

Tied at 1-1 after six frames, Yankton took the lead in the seventh inning, piecing together two singles and a sacrifice bunt to chase Mitchell starting pitcher Briggs Havlik. Koby Larson entered the game with runners at first and third with one out but Yankton's Ethan Wishon had an RBI single to bring home Kieren Luellman for the go-ahead run.

Luellman then took the mound in the bottom of the seventh inning and retired Mitchell's first two hitters quickly. Jackson Sadler drew a two-out walk to extend the game and Koby Larson singled to left-center field but Sadler's attempt to take two bases on the play was snuffed out at third base, ending Mitchell's season with a record of 9-13.

"That's something we practice a lot. (Sadler) had the chance to see the play in front of him and he got a good jump," Norden said. "We were aggressive and I thought he was going to be safe, to be honest."

Yankton scored the first run of the game, thanks to a Mitchell fielding miscue. After leadoff hitter Owen Feser drew a walk, Ethan Wishon laid down a sacrifice bunt to move Feser to second base but the Kernels left third base uncovered, and Feser took the extra base. Caid Koletzky had a sacrifice fly in the next at-bat to put the Bucks up 1-0.

Havlik evened the game for Mitchell in the third inning, doubling with a flare to right field and scoring Sadler from second base. Peyton Nash led Mitchell at the plate with a pair of singles, but just three Kernels found the hit column in the game. Carter Max added a stolen base.

"I think we're ready to put the wood bats away and start over again," Norden said, referring to the upcoming Legion season, which begins May 27 at Aberdeen for Post 18 and uses metal bats.

On the mound, Havlik threw 6 1/3 innings and allowed two earned runs and five hits, while striking out two and walking five. Wishon earned the win, tossing six innings and allowing three hits and one earned run.

"We wanted to let Briggs go as far as he could but we knew we were going to have to take him out with the pitch count," Norden said. "Some of those early innings were long but once he found a groove, he did a good job of having some short innings to give himself a chance to extend his innings."

Yankton (9-10) will play either top-seeded Sioux Falls Roosevelt or Douglas in the quarterfinals at 6 p.m. today at Augustana's Ronken Field in Sioux Falls for a trip to the state tournament.