Dell Rapids Mudcats top Garretson to maintain place atop Class B amateur baseball
Dell Rapids captured its second-straight championship and third overall on Sunday.
MITCHELL — As the crow flies, less than 13 miles separate the communities of Dell Rapids and Garretson, but for much of the Class B state amateur baseball title clash between the former’s Mudcats and the latter’s Blue Jays, even less separation could be found.
But when the final out was called, there was a certain feeling of inevitability to the end result.
Reaching the final game for a second-straight season after bringing home the 2021 state championship, the Dell Rapids Mudcats would not be denied back-to-back titles, re-upping their claim to the Class B throne with a 5-2 victory over the Garretson Blue Jays on Sunday afternoon at Cadwell Park.
“It feels great,” said Dell Rapids’ Dalton Lehnen, who was named tournament MVP for the second-straight year. “It’s so tough to win in this tournament, I feel like, so to do it back-to-back with a 32-team single-elimination tournament feels amazing. That’s what our goal was this year and I just can’t describe it, but it’s been a lot of fun.”
“Probably everybody was questioning whether we were capable of this again, but I think we still had the bullseye on our back. We got everybody’s best shot, and here we are,” added pitcher and first baseman Kris Regas.
It took nearly half the contest for either team to give an inch to the other, as two rows of zeroes extended across the right field scoreboard, and the number of frames played equaled the combined hit total to that juncture.
The Blue Jays loaded the bases with no outs to start the fifth, setting the table for pick-up player Robin Chute, of Elk Point, to push across the first two runs of the championship clash on a single to the left field corner.
Dalton Lehnen came in to shut the door on the Garretson threat, which he did with aplomb, striking out three straight batters to minimize the damages.
Then, in the bottom of the sixth, it was Lehnen who provided the Mudcats’ reply, slipping a ball down the right field line with the bases loaded to draw the score level. One batter later, it was the cross-town pickup, Weston Hansen, of Dell Rapids PBR, that sent the Mudcats into the lead at 3-2. One more run was added after some confusion on the basepaths evolved into a heady baserunning display by Kris Regas and Hansen, who scored just before Regas was tagged out in a rundown between second and third base.
The seventh inning presented a jam for Lehnen — bases loaded and one out — but the left-hander delivered, getting Aaron LaBrie to ground out into a double play to end the inning.
“That was huge,” Lehnen said. “I think that was the last effort they had. If they had scored there, it would’ve been a ballgame, but I think that was pretty demoralizing and from that point, it was our game to lose.”
From there, Lehnen sent down four straight batters before Kris Regas came in the slam the door closed, which he did in emphatic fashion, needing just two pitches to get a game-ending groundout into a double play.
Dalton Allen struck out six batters while going four innings in a start for Dell Rapids, with Lehnen coming in to pitch 4 1/3 innings, also with six strikeouts before Regas polished off the Blue Jays. None of the three surrendered a walk. Offensively, Lehnen and Chad Hunt each had two hits, accounting for half of the Mudcats' team total.
Garretson edged Dell Rapids in the hit department, nine to eight, but committed three errors to the Mudcats' one. The Blue Jays were paced by three knocks off the bat of Dustin Steckler, as Chute added a pair of hits. Aaron LaBrie struck out six in six innings with Trey Buckneberg and Nick Bonte, who recorded all four outs on the mound by strikeout, combining to pitch the other two innings.