The Sioux Falls Brewers finally broke through.
After three second-place finishes in the past four years -- and four overall -- the Brewers find themselves atop Class A amateur baseball. It consistently hit Yankton’s three pitchers and did just enough on the mound, topping Yankton, 10-7, on Sunday at Cadwell Park in the championship game.
It’s the first championship in Brewers history and the first Sioux Falls team to win since the Silver Bullets in 1995.
“It’s a relief, it’s a monkey off our back,” tournament MVP and Sioux Falls starter Bryce Ahrendt said. “We’ve been so close so many years. To be that close for so many years, it feels good to get the monkey off the back.”
Sioux Falls carried its momentum from Saturday’s upset over Renner into Sunday, scoring early to give Ahrendt a 5-0 third-inning lead. While Yankton chipped away at the lead -- eventually tying the game at 7-all in the sixth -- the Brewers kept the pressure on the Tappers’ pitchers.
It learned from Friday’s 3-0 loss to the Tappers, focusing on putting the ball in play and forcing them to make plays. That included T.J. Miller, who went 3-for-5 with two RBIs, and Ian Strum and Jose Martinez, who both had two-hit days. Martinez also drove in three runs.
“After coming off of the Renner win, we just tried to put the ball in play and have them make mistakes,” Miller said. “That’s the approach we took this time. We weren’t trying to hit home runs, just trying to get those base knocks.”
Meanwhile, Yankton capitalized on Ahrendt leaving the ball up in the zone, out-hitting Sioux Falls, 12-9. Gabe Leon and Ross Heine each had three hits, while Mason Townsend and Nik Davis each finished with two.
“They executed off of my mistakes,” Ahrendt said. “And they’re a good team. A lot of respect for them. They gutted it out, they were in the game all game.”
The Tappers were unable to take the lead, though. And after Sioux Falls gained an 8-7 advantage in the seventh, the Tappers stranded Leon on third in the eighth. Jeremiah Mauch forced a fly out to end the threat, notching the win as he held Yankton to an unearned run on two hits in 3.2 innings.
Ahrendt gave up six earned runs and struck out five in his 5.1-inning start. Billy Mount suffered the loss, giving up five runs (four earned) in five innings of relief. Davis and Townsend had three and two RBIs, respectively.
“It’s been a long time coming,” Miller said. “It was a fun ball game going back-and-forth. You can’t replace this feeling.”
Notes: Yankton’s Mitch Gullikson and Renner’s Eric DeJong were the Class A Sid Lundquist state tournament batting champions by going 6-for-12.