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Wild sixth inning sees Mitchell Post 18 swipe Game 1 of playoff series with Aberdeen

Post 18 scored all four of its runs in the fifth and sixth innings despite not recording a hit in either frame to escape with a 4-2 win.

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Mitchell Post 18 Legion's Jake Helleloid celebrates after beating out a tag at home plate during the Class A American Legion playoffs against Aberdeen Post 24 Smittys on Friday, July 22, 2022, at Cadwell Park.
Adam Thury / Mitchell Republic
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MITCHELL — Friday night was far from convincing, but the result is a 1-0 series lead all the same for Mitchell Post 18.

After 5 1/2 scoreless innings, Mitchell and Aberdeen Post 24 scored six total runs between the bottom of the fifth and both halves of the sixth inning. When the dust settled, Post 18 emerged as 4-2 winners to pull within a single game of the Class A American Legion state tournament.

In perhaps the most bizarre final scoreline of the season, Mitchell scored four runs and totaled 12 baserunners for the game, but managed just one hit — a Mason Geraets single with two outs in the second inning. That’s right, neither of the innings in which Mitchell scored involved a hit.

Post 18 scored its first run in the home half of the fifth, as Brock Sparks and Carson Fahey walked before Sparks was driven home from second base on a batted ball by Dylan Soulek that slipped past the shortstop for an error.

Aberdeen responded almost immediately to take the lead, as RBI singles by Casey Vining and Nick Clemens — whose error had allowed the Mitchell run to score — put Aberdeen ahead 2-1.

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But Mitchell pulled back and secured the win with a truly unusual method of response. After Jake Helleloid was hit by a pitch and Jace Larson walked, a ground ball advanced the pair to third and second base, respectively, with one out in the bottom of the sixth. The next at-bat featured a failed bunt attempt as part of a suicide squeeze, but a combination of heady baserunning and a defensive lapse allowed Helleloid to dive in under a tag at home to tie the game and Larson to reach third safely.

Moments later, Landon Waddell plated Larson, the go-ahead run, on a sacrifice fly. Errors on consecutive plays followed, which allowed Brock Sparks to reach base and come all the way home to score to make it 4-2.

With an advantage secured, Helleloid closed out a complete game performance with a lineout followed by two strikeouts — one swinging and one looking, his seventh and eighth of the evening — to retire the side in order to end the contest.

Game 2 of the best-of-three series is set for noon Saturday, with Game 3 to follow, if necessary.

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