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Flandreau ends Angels' run in 13 innings

Jordan Gau, of the Alexandria Angels, turns a double play against Jake Patterson, of Flandreau, on Friday night at the Class B amateur baseball state tournament in Sioux Falls. (Michael Brown / For The Daily Republic)

SIOUX FALLS -– The Alexandria Angels were the Flandreau Cardinals’ buzzsaw in each of the last two Class B state amateur baseball tournaments, ending potentially promising tournaments with ease.  

But the Cardinals turned the tables Friday and knocked out the powerhouse and two-time defending state champions from Alexandria, 4-3, in 13 innings in a Class B state quarterfinal game at Ronken Field at Augustana University.

“I think every fan here tonight got their money’s worth,” said Flandreau manager Bret Severtson. “That was a fun baseball game to play in.

The result ends Alexandria’s run of five straight championship game appearances and a streak of 12 straight wins at the state tournament, dating back to the 2015 championship against Parkston. Flandreau advances to play Harrisburg in the second of two Class B semifinals on Saturday at 7:30 p.m.

The Angels (19-3) trailed 3-0 after three innings and evened the game late but Flandreau made the last mark. Jared Campbell reached base for Flandreau to leadoff the 13th inning after a Pierce Smith error, moving to second on the play. After Tyson Gau came in to relieve Angels’ ace Trever Vermeulen, Mitch Foster had a sacrifice bunt to move Campbell to third base. Following an intentional walk, Keith Cutler laced a single to left field, for Campbell to score the go-ahead and eventual winning run.

“Playing (Alexandria), they have two amazing pitchers,” said Cutler, the Platte native. “Luckily, we made a few good swings and just had enough.”

Cutler got the scoring started with a home run to right field, giving the Cardinals a 1-0 lead after an inning and a half. Flandreau extended its lead to 3-0 in the third inning as Dell Rapids Mudcats pick-up player Nate Henry hit a two-run double after Riley Johnson and Mitch Foster singled off Angels’ ace Trever Vermeulen.

The Angels finally scored in the fourth as John Greicar singled and advanced to second on an error and Armando Rodriguez singled him in cutting Flandreau’s lead to 3-1. Greicar delivered again in the sixth inning, with a two-out double and Chris Marek followed with an RBI single, trimming the Cardinal advantage to 3-2.

Alexandria had three straight two-out hits in the seventh inning, capped by Pierce Smith’s game-tying RBI single, evening the game at 3-all.

In the ninth, Alexandria’s Cole Wenande tried to advance from second to third base on a slow ground ball hit to the shortstop. The throw to third base was not in time, but Wenande couldn’t stay on the bag through the slide and was tagged out, ending the possible threat.

“I don’t think you’ll see a better-played baseball game than what you saw tonight,” Marek said. “It stinks to be on the losing end of a game but as I told the guys, that was one heck of a game.”

Alexandria had 14 hits but left 12 men on base. Greicar finished 4-for-6, while Pierce Smith, Tyson Gau, and Wenande all had two hits. Foster and Cutler each had two of Flandreau’s seven hits.

Severtson earned the win in relief for Flandreau, tossing 4 2/3 innings with three hits allowed, no runs and three strikeouts. Starter Zach Weinandt threw 8 1/3 innings, allowing 11 hits but just two earned runs.

Vermeulen threw 12-plus innings, allowing six hits, four runs (three earned) and striking out 10.

NOTES: Prior to Friday's game, Woonsocket community members donated used baseball and softball equipment to the "Helping Kids Round First" organization, which collects equipment and delivers it to youth in rural communities around the world, primarily in Nicaragua. The presentation was made prior to the Alexandria-Flandreau contest because the organization's founder Craig Severtson is from Flandreau and Alexandria first baseman Armando Rodriguez helps run youth baseball programs in Woonsocket.