Playing sound defensive baseball seems like an obvious key to success.
Throughout the Class B state amateur baseball tournament, though, it has been easier said than done. Errors have made an impact on games, with a total of 134 in 25 tournament games and each game has featured a minimum of two.
Early in the tournament, teams that committed fewer errors were 8-5, but since the second round, the team that has fewer errors has won five out of six times. Plankinton has been on both sides, using seven Crofton, Nebraska, errors to advance in the second round and four errors resulted in an 11-1 quarterfinal loss to Winner/Colome on Thursday.
“Once you get in the state tournament, there are a lot more good batters,” Plankinton co-manager Ryan Pryor said. “The ball is in play that much more and that chance of an error increases.”
Errors put teams such as South Central -- which committed nine in a first-round loss to Northville -- at a disadvantage early and lowered the odds of making a comeback. It also proved to be the difference in a tight quarterfinal contest on Wednesday between Canova and Flandreau.
The Gang recorded four hits, but two errors in the ninth inning led to the game-winning run. Winner/Colome, meanwhile, did not give up an error on Thursday until the game was firmly in-hand.
Pheasant pitcher Derek Graesser also gave up five hits and one walk, which put pressure on Banker hitters to find a way onto the basepaths.
“People tend to start pressing and swinging at the first pitch versus taking long at-bats,” Pryor said. “We got to a point where we just said, ‘Go ahead. You get the first pitch you want, whether it’s good or not, just start swinging at it.’ ”
Winner/Colome has boasted stellar pitching throughout the tournament -- giving up three runs in three games -- but Thursday marked the first time it had come out ahead of an opponent in errors.
Thursday also marked the widest margin of victory in the tournament. Of the eight teams to reach the quarterfinals, only Milbank (eight) had more than five errors in its first two games and the teams combined for just 27 of the 134 errors.
Clark amassed six runs and a pair of tight wins to advance to today’s quarterfinal tilt against Garretson and the Traders are the only team left in the tournament without an error on the books.
Winner/Colome also found that playing strong defense help offset some hitting slumps. The Pheasants exploded for 15 hits on Thursday, nearly doubling its total of 16 in the first two games combined.
“(Errors) have hurt a lot of teams,” Winner/Colome manager Kevin Graesser said. “That’s why most teams have lost. They’ve got the pitching and not the defense, but if you can get both -- it’s easier making 27 outs than 33 or 34 outs.”