Head Coach Kelvin Torve has a light hearted word with his left fielder Jed Jensen
(Photo by Michele Davies)
RAPID CITY—After a nine game road trip to Colorado and Nebraska, the Post 22 Hardhats returned home with a 4-5 record, but losing three of their last four games.
While in Colorado, they lost to the Erickson Rough Riders; 6-5, beat Centennial Rogue, 14-10; beat Gavin, Texas, 8-7; and lost to Gavin, Texas, 15-11. They then traveled east to Omaha for the Creighton Prep tourney.
“We were 1-3, and then we had a forfeit,” Head Coach Kelvin Torve said about the Creighton Prep tourney. “But we won today, we played well. Brian (Atkinson) pitched, and he did really well. So, we ended on a good note.”
Assessing the entire road trip, Torve characterized it as “up and down.” “We had a couple of games where we played really poorly,” Torve said. “We had more games where we played well. We’re improving, which is what you want to do. I wish we were improving faster than we are, but we are headed into the meat of our schedule. We got Yankton on Tuesday. We got the Firecracker this weekend, we got the Gopher, and then we have two Sioux Falls schools coming in. So, hopefully, we’ll be peaking at the right time when the state tournament comes.”
A couple of pitchers made their mark on the road trip. “Skyler Montgomery came up, he’s a 15-year-old, and he really pitched well. Lee Neugebauer pitched really well in relief. He had two outings and was really, really good. Wyatt Anderson had a good, competitive game. He threw a complete game, in a game we lost, 3-1, but he threw really well. And Brian (Atkinson) threw well today. He threw three pitches for strikes, kept them off balance, and pounded the strike zone.”
Hitters also contributed on the road trip. Torve: “Mars Sailer and Zeke Farlee, they’ve been hitting the ball all year. They had a really good weekend. Wyatt Anderson would be the other guy I would consider had a good weekend with the bat, but other than that we were inconsistent.”
There was one more hitter Torve spoke about: “(Kai Jackson), he’s a left handed hitter, hit a home run today, He shares the DH spot with Riker Henne and so it is hard to get both of those guys consistent at bats but Kai has changed his approach to the plate and I think it is going to pay big dividends for him moving through the season. He had a big game today, had a long home run, and he looks more comfortable at the plate. Kai is looking to hit the ball more to right center. Before, he just thought too much.. Every count he had a different idea out there. We just tried to simplify his approach. I told him every time you are at the plate, virtually at every level of the game, you’re going to get a pitch to hit. You just have to be prepared for it.”
The Hardhats are now 27-16 on the season, and preparing to host one of the more exciting American Legion tournaments in the nation, the legendary Firecracker, this weekend. Torve said there will be a fair number of strong teams that should make for some outstanding baseball.
Across the parking lot, Rapid City Post 320 Stars were 5-4 over their last nine games. They beat the Miles City Outlaws, 10-0, and 13-12. They then beat the 970 Sun Devils, 6-3 and the RSP Traveling Team, 12-11. Next came back-to-back losses to Gull’s BBC 23’s, 3-2, and Rush Rush 18 U, 5-1. The Stars split their last two games. Overall they have a 21-12 record, and have shown they can score runs, but their pitching needs a lot of work.
Sturgis and Spearfish both struggle to establish themselves, with 9-15 and 7-25 records, respectively.
Below the varisty level, the Post 320 Shooters are 17-16 and the Risers are 8-21, so the Stars will struggle in the next few years to find help from younger players. The Post 22 Expos are 27-8, despite their best players having been called up to the Hardhats. The 15 and Under Post 22 Bullets are a stellar 32-2, and they are going to be a handful come playoff time.
(Contact James Giago Davies at email@example.com)