Host Hardhats take four straight from Watertown
By James Giago Davies
Native Sun News Today Correspondent
RAPID CITY— After a shaky start to their season, Rapid City’s Post 22 Hardhats have fought back to a post a 7-5 record after taking two doubleheaders from the visiting Watertown Post 17.
The Hardhats won the first game of the first doubleheader on Saturday, 8-3. Wilson Kieffer and Mars Sailer drove in multiple runs and Eli Kelley earned the win on the mound. In the nightcap, Wyatt Anderson provided a strong pitching performance and the Hardhat bats rapped out nine hits and scored 15 runs. Anderson gave up only two hits over five innings, struck out 12 and walked only one.
In the first game of Sunday’s doubleheader, Post 22 bats again gave the pitching a solid lead, and Brian Atkinson and reliever Nate Kindred combined to shut out Watertown, 8-0. Mars Sailer drove a ball deep into the centerfield gap and his speed turned it into an inside-the-park homerun.
“Mars is dangerous at the plate,” said Hardhat pitching coach Nick Ewing. “And we knew we needed something to kind of break that game open.”
The Hardhat fielding was outstanding, and error free, with especially big plays from Peyton Tipton at third base. Tipton did not even know where manager Kelvin Torve would play him this season, and to this point he has been at shortstop and third because he has a strong, reliable arm. Tipton has good power, and he can pull the ball out of the ballpark but has struggled with strikeouts. This was no problem Sunday morning, as he drove in a run and scored a run.
“A couple of days ago we hit two caddies of stuff,” Tipton said, explain his fielding performance. “And we just worked on mental stuff, because every error is a mental error.”
In the Sunday doubleheader nightcap. The Hardhats again prevailed, this time 13-1. Dylon Masrsh was a bit nervous taking the mound for Post 22, having battled back from an injury, but his results belied his anxiety, as he gave up only one hit and one run over four innings.
“I had an injury a week before the season.” Marsh said, “and I was just anxious to be out on the field. I got the first inning, and I was like, ‘I’m comfortable now.’ When we come out and put up these runs I can throw wherever I want in the zone and I can get my ground balls and get my flyballs and if I give up a couple of hits, I’m good, because we got the run package.”
Wyatt Anderson blasted a grand slam homerun, but the next time he came up to bat the pitch caught him in the face and he went down, writhing on the ground. This was not a retaliatory pitch for the grand slam as the Watertown pitcher rushed to home plate, his face marked with concern for Anderson, and Hardhat manager Torve gave him a pat on the back and assured him nobody thought his errant pitch was targeted.
I think (Anderson) is going to be okay,” Coach Ewing said. “Obviously, that’s a scary situation, just got hit in the high cheekbone, swelled up quick. I think he’s hurt, but not injured, and he just has to get that out of his mind now and consider what he did at the at bat before and remember that.”
Ewing was pleased with the overall Hardhat effort: “We did some little things, drew some walks, and stole some bases. Put us in situations where we could score. You look for that one big inning and we got a big inning every game and so that’s always good to see.
Up to this point, Post 22 pitching has struggled somewhat, but they all posted fine performances against Watertown. Ewing: “It takes the pressure off when you know your pitchers are throwing strikes and competing, then everybody loosens up and the guys make some really good defensive plays and some big moment plays yesterday and today and I think the feel of the game, you start to feel confident everywhere and anxiety goes down and everybody plays better with a clearer mind.”
The Hardhats will host Cheyenne Post 6 this weekend. Post 22 opened the season being swept by the Sixers down in Cheyenne.
The Post 22 Expos are playing .500 ball at 6-6. They took two out of three from Watertown over the weekend, winning the Saturday doubleheader, 3-1, and 4-3, and dropping a 9-7 game on Sunday.
The 15 and Under Post 22 Bullets have had a nice start to their spring, defeating most opponents by wide margins. They are now 7-2, splitting a double header against Gillette on Sunday. In the first game Declan Mickley rapped out five hits as the Bullets hammered the Rustlers 26-4 in the first game. Post 22 scored 13 runs in the seventh inning. Dexter Steen notched the win for Rapid City.
(Contact James Giago Davies at email@example.com)