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Bon Homme wins Class B title

FLANDREAU -- The day started with a dominate pitching performance. It ended with a state championship celebration. The Bon Homme high school baseball team beat Chester/Colman-Egan/Flandreau 9-5 in the title game of the Class B state tournament on...

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Bon Homme's Kodi Larson releases a pitch during the championship game of the Class B state baseball tournament against Chester/Colman-Egan/Flandreau on Monday in Flandreau. (Travis Mester/Republic)

FLANDREAU -- The day started with a dominate pitching performance.

It ended with a state championship celebration.

The Bon Homme high school baseball team beat Chester/Colman-Egan/Flandreau 9-5 in the title game of the Class B state tournament on Monday.

Bon Homme sophomore Kodi Larson threw 4-plus innings and picked up the win in the championship game. He was unaware he was pitching the title tilt until the 20-minute break between Bon Homme's semifinal win over defending state champion St. Thomas More.

"I didn't know I was going to go the second game, but when I came in I just wanted to throw strikes," said Larson, who allowed five runs on five hits.

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Larson was given an early lead to work with in the title game. Doug Vanecek had an RBI groundout and Blase Vanecek smashed an RBI double in the first inning off C/CE/F's starter Luke Gassman.

Bon Homme added three more runs in the second and two in the third to take a 7-1 lead entering the bottom of the fourth inning. But C/CE/F tallied a pair of runs in the fourth and fifth and the Bon Homme bats went silent against reliever Austin Ross.

A scoreless final three innings of relief by Ross Kortan, coupled with an RBI double by Lance Ranek -- which he also scored on because of a throwing error -- in the seventh inning helped Bon Homme get to the finish line.

C/CE/F made it to the title game after beating Tri-Valley in extra innings on a walk-off home run by Carter Ahlers.

Kortan, Ranek and Larson all had two hits to lead Bon Homme's offense in the title game.

"I think, in our lineup, 5-6-7 is just as good as 1-2-3," Bon Homme coach Gary Kortan said. "To our guys credit, they've never cared about where they bat in the order. They've been a fun group to work with."

But without Doug Vanecek's performance in the opener, Bon Homme may never have had a title shot.

Vanecek allowed three hits and one run while striking out 11 in the 11-1, six-inning win over St. Thomas More. He also went 3-for-4 at the plate -- including a three-run home run in the sixth inning to put the team up by 10 and in position to end the game by mercy rule.

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"They've been the best of the best for how long and we came in and beat them," said Vanecek, who recorded strikeouts on seven of the final nine outs of the contest.

Bon Homme coach Gary Kortan marveled at the future Mount Marty player.

"I think, arguably, Doug is the best high school player in the state," Gary Kortan said. "He got us to where we needed to go.

"My assistants and a couple other local guys discussed it and we knew we couldn't play the second game unless we won the first. We didn't want to save Doug and not use him."

Ross Kortan also had two hits and scored twice in the first game of the day for Bon Homme.

Gary Kortan said his team was eager to finish what it couldn't last spring, when he said he thought Bon Homme had the top team in the state. Last year, Beresford knocked Bon Homme off in regions and took its championship hopes with it.

This year, it was a different story for Bon Homme.

"This is our fifth or sixth year of having a team and this is the first state tournament appearance," Gary Kortan said.

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It ended with a state title.

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