Mitchell Post 18 avoided a trip across the state and date with the top seed in Class A Legion baseball. Instead, it’ll travel to No. 2 Brandon Valley for a Regional second round best-of-three series.
Rapid City Post 320’s first-round upset over Sioux Falls East bumped eighth-seeded Mitchell from the bottom spot of the re-seeded second round.
Post 18 (23-21) now plays at 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. on Monday, and 5 p.m. Tuesday if the series needs a decisive third game. No first-round series went the distance. The winner advances to the state tournament on Aug. 7-9, which is hosted by the highest remaining seed.
The eight first-round sweeps included Mitchell defeating Brookings, 8-7 and 7-6, while Brandon Valley (26-10) swept Huron, 12-0 and 17-0. From a dramatic five-run comeback in the seventh inning of Game 1 and holding off Brookings’ rally in the second game, Post 18 enters the series coming off one of its best doubleheaders of the season.
“We did a way better job of having back-to-back-to-back good at-bats,” Post 18 coach Luke Norden said. “... A big key to that first win was the bottom part of our lineup getting on base and producing a couple of runs. I think those key things and knowing our pitchers did really well around the strike zone and playing good defense, a little bit of everything was good to see.”
Mitchell had a six-run frame in both wins against Brookings, but upsetting Brandon Valley could come down to another sound defensive performance.
Mitchell ended the regular season with a 7-2 loss against Brandon Valley, as six errors turned a winnable game into one it had to play from behind nearly the entire contest. Post 18 threw four pitchers, but held Brandon Valley to two bunt hits and an infield single. Its fielding foes turned the three hits into six runs (two earned).
“We talked about that. I hope the guys took that to heart,” Norden said. “A discussion about that and the way we lost that game. Hopefully we have that in the back of our minds and don’t let that happen again and play a little bit better.”
Mitchell seemingly solved some of its defensive issues against Brookings during a four-error doubleheader, including just one in the second game. Norden was especially pleased with his outfielders ability to track down balls.
It also strung together quality at-bats against Brookings. Mitchell drew walks, took extra bases on Brookings’ mishaps and recorded 18 hits in the doubleheader. Against Brandon Valley, it finished with three hits, though Brady Hawkins and Austin Kerr both doubled.
A repeat of the Brookings’ series over its single game against Brandon Valley is crucial against the strike-throwing rotation that the No. 2 seed sports.
“For the most part, their pitchers have done a really good job,” Norden said. “Every guy they’ve brought in, they’ve done a good job throwing strikes. They don’t give a lot of games away.”