Mitchell playing for state berth today at Region 3A tourney
In five of six region games this year, the Mitchell high school baseball team hasn't had problems scoring runs. The Kernels have averaged about 10.5 runs per game when facing Rapid City Stevens, Rapid City Central and Huron. Starting at 11 a.m. t...
In five of six region games this year, the Mitchell high school baseball team hasn't had problems scoring runs.
The Kernels have averaged about 10.5 runs per game when facing Rapid City Stevens, Rapid City Central and Huron.
Starting at 11 a.m. today, those four teams are playing in the Region 3A tournament at the Cadwell Park Sports Complex in Mitchell, and the Kernels are the top seed. This is the fourth straight year the Kernels are hosting the region tournament. They've won two of the past three region titles.
Mitchell (16-7) plays fourth-seeded Huron (3-17) in its first-round game today at Cadwell Park. The Kernels beat Huron 14-1 and 8-3 in two matchups this year.
"Our production has been very high in our region games," Mitchell coach Luke Norden said. "I think it would be nice to score double-digit runs, but if we can look at scoring one run an inning, that would be good for us."
Evan Mastel pitched both games against Huron this year, but will not start in the first round today. Norden said left-hander Brent Havlik will likely take the mound to open the game. Havlik is 2-3 this season with a 4.73 ERA.
Mitchell's lone loss this year to a regional opponent was a 1-0 game against Rapid City Central on April 29. The Kernels were shut out and held to two hits by Central pitcher Ben Dingus in the first game of a doubleheader in Rapid City.
"It seemed like that game we were trying to pull everything," Norden said. "He threw a lot of strikes and made us swing the bat. We just couldn't get comfortable in the box at all."
In the second game, the Kernels scored a season-high 20 runs in a 14-run win.
Central plays Rapid City Stevens in a first-round game at 11 a.m. on Drake Field. The entire tournament was originally scheduled to be played at Cadwell Park, but looming rainy weather changed the format. The two first-round winners play for the region championship on Cadwell Park, about 30 minutes following the first round. The region champion gets an automatic berth to the state tournament, which is played May 26 at Sioux Falls Stadium.
"Central and Stevens have played pretty even this year," Norden said. "Both first-round games should be pretty good."
Mitchell swept a doubleheader against Stevens on April 28 in Rapid City. The Kernels won the first game 6-4 and the second game 16-5.
To keep its high offensive output up, the Kernels will look to leadoff hitter Lakin Neugebauer to get things rolling today. The senior has a team-best 24 hits with a .324 batting average and has struck out only five times in 74 plate appearances.
"The amount of times he's led off the game and scored for us has really helped make the first inning our best inning," Norden said. "That puts pressure on right away."
Jared Schmidt has a team-best .339 batting average with 16 RBIs and 20 walks.
On the mound, Mastel is leading the team with a 5-2 record and has a 2.12 ERA in 34 innings pitched. Kirby Fuerst has a 2-0 record with a 2.08 ERA in 13 innings.