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Mitchell Post 18 grinds out Class A tourney opening win over Rapid City Post 320

Third-seeded Post 18 awaits the winner of Rapid City Post 22 and Harrisburg Post 45 on Thursday night.

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Mitchell Post 18 shortstop Dylan Soulek flicks a sidearm throw to first base for an out after fielding a ground ball as second baseman Jace Larson looks on during a Class A American Legion tournament semifinal against Rapid City Post 320 on Wednesday, July 27, 2022, at Fitzgerald Stadium in Rapid City.
Landon Dierks / Mitchell Republic
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RAPID CITY — Behind a commanding effort on the mound and at the plate for Jake Helleloid, Mitchell Post 18 earned a 4-1 quarterfinal victory over Rapid City Post 320 in the Class A American Legion baseball state tournament on Wednesday afternoon at Fitzgerald Stadium.

Mitchell fell behind 1-0 after just two batters had come to the plate, but Helleloid shut down Post 320 from there, allowing just one hit and three total baserunners the remainder of his 6 2/3 innings on the mound.

"I just thought our guys were really in-tune to what was going on the entire time — knowing who was up and where they needed to go," Mitchell coach Luke Norden said. "They did a really good job."

The combination of leadoff-hitter Gavyn Dansby and No. 2-hitter Lane Darrow pushed Rapid City in front, as Dansby tripled to the gap in right-center field on the sixth pitch and was driven in on the seventh on an RBI groundout from Darrow.

But in the second, even after a misinterpreted sign led to Helleloid being thrown out at second base following a leadoff single, Post 18 leveled the score. Jace Larson scored from second base on a hard chopper that slipped past the Rapid City shortstop and into left field off the bat of Brock Sparks.

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Then, after three walks loaded the bases with one out in the third, Larson hit a line drive into right field that dropped to score Dylan Soulek and Jonah Schmidt and made the score 3-1.

Post 18 added its final run with one out in the fifth, as Joe Van Overschelde sent a fly ball to right field that was dropped — Post 320's third error of the contest to that point — allowing Helleloid to score from third base.

While the offense was putting up runs in the second, third and fifth innings, Helleloid was cruising on the mound. The hard-throwing right-hander needed just 74 pitches to get through six innings and allowed just two hits with three strikeouts and one walk. Helleloid recorded two outs in the seventh on just four pitches before Peyton Mandel was inserted to record the final out, which he got via a flyout to left field, earning a save.

"[Helleloid] does a really good job of hitting the outside corner and they didn't want to hit the ball hard out there," Norden said. "If you look through the course of the year, the first inning might just be his nemesis. ... But he gets stronger and stronger as the game goes on, and he did that again today."
Soulek and Helleloid recorded two hits apiece, accounting for four of Mitchell's six for the afternoon. Seth Muth and Larson notched the other two hits, with Larson's two RBIs leading the Mitchell offense.

Post 320 was limited to four baserunners in the contest, with Dansby and Darrow each recording one hit. Brady Fallon was credited with the loss after going three innings and surrendering two hits, three walks and two earned runs.

Mitchell Post 18 will play the winner of No. 2 Rapid City Post 22 and No. 7 Harrisburg Post 45 on Thursday at 8 p.m. Central time.

With the loss, Post 320 dropped to the elimination bracket to play the loser of Rapid City Post 22 and Harrisburg. Top-seeded Brookings rallied to win the opening game of the tournament on Wednesday, 6-5, over Pierre.

Schedule and Results
Wednesday, July 27
No. 1 Brookings 6, No. 9 Pierre 5 (8 inn.)
No. 5 Sioux Falls East 14, No. 4 Brandon Valley 2 (5 inn.)
No. 3 Mitchell 4, No. 6 Rapid City Post 320 1
No. 2 Rapid City Post 22 4, No. 7 Harrisburg 2

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Thursday, July 28
No. 4 Brandon Valley vs. No. 9 Pierre, 11 a.m. (loser eliminated)
No. 6 Rapid City Post 320 vs. No. 7 Harrisburg, 1:30 p.m. (loser eliminated)
No. 1 Brookings vs. No. 5 Sioux Falls East, 5 p.m.
No. 2 Rapid City Post 22 vs. No. 3 Mitchell, 8 p.m.

More Post 18 state tournament coverage...

Dierks covers prep and collegiate athletics across the Mitchell Republic's coverage region area, focusing on Mitchell High School football and boys basketball and area high school football, volleyball and basketball, as well as Dakota Wesleyan women's basketball. He was also the lead on the Mitchell Republic Gridiron Spotlight, producing video and providing live play-by-play for the traveling weekly prep football broadcast during its first season in the fall of 2021. Dierks is a Mitchell native who graduated from South Dakota State University with his bachelor's degree in journalism in May 2020. He joined the Mitchell Republic sports staff in August 2021. He can be reached at ldierks@mitchellrepublic.com and found on Twitter at @LDierksy.
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