Post 22 and Post 320 go 4-1 at Veterans Classic
By James Giago Davies
RAPID CITY—Neither host Rapid City team made the finals of last weekend’s Veterans Classic, held at Dave Ploof Field and Pete Lien Field, but they both had a good showing. Cheyenne Post 6 was the class of the field. They won four straight, shutting out three teams in a row, which included back-to-back no hitters, and then they defeated archrival Gillette, 10-2 in the final. They have also beaten Post 22 six times so far this season. Lucky for South Dakota baseball playoff aspirations, the Sixers play in Wyoming.
“That is a World Series team, they are really good,” Post 22 Head Coach Kelvin Torve said of Cheyenne.
Post 22 started out like a house on fire, defeating Hike Real Estate Post 339, Miles City Outlaws and Laramie Rangers, 10-1, 8-0, and 7-3. They looked to be on their way to the championship game against Cheyenne, but stumbled against Mitchell on Saturday, losing 13-0. The Hardhats rebounded with a 8-2 win over the Billings Flyers on Sunday, and Centerfielder Zeke Farley blasted a grand slam homerun over the centerfield fence.
One player who has been a sparkplug for Post 22 during their big winning streak the past couple of weeks is Firstbasemen Hayden Holec. He;s a big boy for a sophomore and can rip the ball to all fields, and he has a surprisingly good set of wheels as well. Most players Holec’s age are playing for the Expos, basically the junior varsity, and Holec thinks that experience served him well: “The Expos really prepares you for this and this is the big stage. It’s not much different, but there’s like the pitching, and the speed of the game, but I think the Expos gets us really ready for the Hardhats.”
Holec would make a fine outfielder, given his speed and athleticism, but he plays first base: “Throughout the program we don’t really have a lot of firstbasemen, so they kinda put me there my Expo year and I did pretty well.”
Holec has a specific perspective on his strengths as a hitter: “My mentality, when I get down to two strikes, most people get down on themselves, and second guess themselves, but I think it’s important to have that confidence with two strikes.”
Holec also knows where he needs to improve: “I definitely need to work on locking it in in those middle innings. It’s kind of hard to stay focused. I think most of my team can agree with that. Instead of just playing three of four really good innings, we need to lock it in for the whole game.”
Torve is happy with a 4-1 Veterans Classic showing: “We have been trending in the right direction, We’re improving every day. We’re young, every game we improve. We took a step back against Mitchell, but we came out and played better today.”
Torve likes the improvement in his pitching as well: “We started the year, nobody could throw a strike, and all of a sudden, we have four complete games in this tournament. So, I’m thrilled at the pitching. Fact is, Coach (Ryan) Klapperich has done a fantastic job. We’ve done a couple of different drills, and it’s really paid dividends.”
The Hardhats are now 16-10, and overall, are a much better team than at the start of the season.
Post 320 opened the Veterans Classic with a 12-6 lost to Fremont, Nebraska. But they bounced back winning four straight, over the Renner Royals, Plattsmouth, Nebraska, Billings Flyers, and the Laramie Rangers, 10-9, 12-4, 4-1, 6-1. The Stars have a solid 14-6 record, and although they lost to Post 22, 8-2, back on May 31, both Rapid City teams are playing above .500 ball. The Post 320 Shooters are at 13-6. They have split their two games versus the Expos. The Risers are 5-11, and they were pounded in their two games against the Post 22 Bullets, 15-3 and 15-0. The Post 22 Expos are 11-6 and have won five straight. The Post 22 Bullets are the most impressive of all the Rapid City teams, at 15-2, having won eight straight.
Because they play high school baseball, the Sturgis Titans had a late American Legion start but they are
2-5, with one impressive 9-1 win over Gillette. They lost their last game, 16-3, to Pierre Post 8.
Spearfish Post 164 has played some tough baseball but they have also been steamrolled. They are 3-16 overall, but do have a win over a quality Gillette team. They lost their two games to Post 22, 4-3 and 1-0, and lost to Post 320, 3-1, so they appear to be able to step up their game when facing Rapid City competition.
There does not appear to be a clearly dominate team in South Dakota this year at the varsity level. Despite all their losses, Post 22 and Post 320 appear to be on par with the best competition the state can offer. They don’t have too many games on the slate against East River in the upcoming weeks but Post 22 does host Pierre Post 8 on Friday and Saturday.
(Contact James Giago Davies at email@example.com)