The ongoing coronavirus pandemic didn’t stop amateur baseball fans from packing Cadwell Park again.
A popular spot for the 12-day and 32-team Class B state amateur baseball tournament, Cadwell Park generated $56,065 in paid admission, according to South Dakota Amateur Baseball Association Secretary/Treasurer Herb Sundall. The Class A tournament also played its final three days at Cadwell Park and Drake Field after starting in Yankton.
It’s the fourth-highest figure and perhaps the most impressive given the circumstances with the global pandemic.
“The association is extremely pleased with the attendance at the tournament,” Sundall said. “Going into the tournament, we really didn’t know whether it would be a fair attendance or a disaster. It turned out to be very good.”
The SDABA pockets the gate receipts and it pays all the expenses of the tournament. The Mitchell Baseball Association receives part of the concession stands and the money generated from the programs. The Exchange Club of Mitchell runs the state amateur baseball concession stands and it uses the event as a fundraiser.
This year’s figure is up from last year ($51,849), but behind the record of $65,585 from 2015. The 2020 Class B state championship game between Alexandria and Canova totaled $6,575. It’s the second-highest amount for a session in tournament history, behind 2015’s title game between the Angels and Parkston Mudcats. The 2015 title game brought in $6,826.
Sundall said the 2020 championship matchup was the perfect storm. It featured two perennial powers located close to Mitchell. Alexandria is 15 miles down Interstate-90, while Canova is 40 miles from Mitchell.
“Those two teams making it to the finals is part of the reason that our attendance was so good,” Sundall said.
In addition to nice weather, local teams -- Alexandria, Canova, Winner/Colome -- all made the semifinals. Salem also made the quarterfinals where it was eliminated by Wynot (Neb.)
“We always seem to do better when teams in closer proximity to Mitchell do well,” Sundall said.
The final paid admission figure doesn’t include the pay-pay-view amount. The SDABA charged a fee to watch this year’s tournament online. The SDABA will receive a substantial share of the pay-per-view returns, said Sundall.
The 2021 Class B state amateur tournament will be at Augustana University’s Ronken Field on Aug. 4-15. The 2022 state tournament will return to Mitchell on Aug. 3-14.
Sundall said the association enjoys the event in Mitchell, but is open to moving it to Sioux Falls every three years for a different market.
“We get different fans there when we do have it in Sioux Falls,” Sundall said. “That’s probably the only thing that keeps it out of Mitchell every year is the desire to expose our product to a different area of the state.”
Big offense powers Class B state tournament
The end of the 2020 South Dakota Class B State Amateur Baseball tournament also concluded a run for hot bats at Cadwell Park.
The tournament was the highest scoring edition in the recent wood-bat era of South Dakota amateur baseball, which dates back to 2012. A total of 362 runs were scored over the course of the 31 games, averaging 5.84 runs per team in each contest. The previous best was the 2015 tournament, which saw runs scored at a rate of 5.65 runs per team.
The state champion Alexandria Angels were a big part of that trend, scoring 56 runs in five games at the state tournament, including scoring at least 11 runs per game in the final four rounds of play.
Potent offenses have defined the streak of recent Class B champions. The last four Class B state title winners have scored at least 40 runs (or eight runs per game) at the state tournament, including Canova in 2018, which set the high for the wood-bat era of 58 runs in five games. From 2013 to 2016, the Class B champion averaged 33 runs for the tournament.
Coincidentally, the 2020 Angels style of play stands in stark contrast to how the dynasty started in 2013, when Alexandria scored just 27 times at the state tournament but claimed the first of five state championships in eight years.
The Class B tournament home run count was also up in 2020, with 13 homers recorded in 31 games at Cadwell Park. (There were 12 in 2019.) The last three tournaments at Cadwell Park have included at least 12 home runs, while the 2018 tournament at Augustana University's Ronken Field is the recent high for Class B home runs with 14.