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Post 320 outslugs host Sturgis


Post 22 struggles on the road

STURGIS—A perfect rainbow arched over the top of Strong Field Saturday evening, and even though the intermittent showers brought out umbrellas in the stands, play was never halted, and after seven innings, Rapid City Post 320 pounded out a 13-6 win over the host Sturgis Titans.

“When you score that many runs, and you get that many hits,” Post 320 Head Coach Brian Humphries said, “it’s definitely a team effort. For the most part we played pretty good defense. We had a little miscue early on, but it didn’t lead to any runs, lucky for us. Coming off the long bus trip we had a few days ago, it was very good for us to be able to come out and hit the ball well, and not to have any let down after playing really high-end teams in New Mexico from Arizona and Utah and stuff like that. It was good to be able to come out here with a good mentality and hit the ball really well and get a win for us in this league game.”

Sturgis ace Gage Murphey throwing a pitch. (Photo by Michele Davies)

Earlier this season, Sturgis had beaten the Stars 8-7 in Rapid City, and for this league game both teams went with their best arms, Jimmy Rogers on the mound for Post 320, and Gage Murphey starting for Sturgis. Murphey tossed a no-hitter a couple summers back up in Williston and he throws hard stuff for a little guy. Rogers is a scrappy, junk ball pitcher, and when he’s able to locate his pitches, he’s tough to beat.

If you get rid of the seven runs Sturgis scored in the top of the fifth, this game was pretty much the same game the two teams played against each other.  The fifth started with Gavyn Dansby reaching first on an error. After a six-pitch battle, Murphy then walked Peyton Ness. Ryan Rufeldt bunted Murphey’s next pitch right back to him which sacrificed the runners over to second and third. Murphey would take seven more pitches to walk Jace Wexler, but the fourth pitch was a wild one, which allowed Dansby to score from third and Ness to advance to third. Third baseman Isaac Dike then rapped a clean single into left that drove in Ness and advanced Wexler to second. It wasn’t that Murphey wasn’t throwing good pitches, the Stars were basically nitpicking him to death. Help from his fielders was sorely needed, and the golden opportunity came when Clinton Nally sent a ground ball right at shortstop Owen Cass. The choice Cass had to make in a split second was to wait on the ball or charge it. He waited, fielded it cleanly, and got off a strong throw, but Nally beat the throw to the bag. That loaded the bases and that was all for Murphey on the mound.

Kain Peters was the new pitcher, and Gage Darrow doubled his first pitch into center, driving in all three runs. Rattled, Peters walked Mason Mehlhaff on four pitches. He settled down enough to get Lane Darrow to fly out to center. Locked in a nine-pitch battle with Dansby, Peters tossed a wild pitch that advanced the runners to second and third. Dansby then smacked a tricky fly ball to left that resulted in an error that allowed both baserunners to score. A close 3-2 ball game was now a 10-2 ball game.

Sturgis would rally with four runs in the bottom of the seventh but the final 13-6 Stars win evened their head-to-head at 1-1. The Stars are now 13-18 and have no more home games this season. They are up in Miles City for a Thursday doubleheader and then back to Sturgis Friday for a 3pm-5 pm doubleheader. Last week’s long New Mexico road trip was good for the Stars. They went 2-3 against some stiff competition.

The Titans have had a tough summer. They are presently 7-13, and have lost four in a row, two of those losses being 14-0, 13-3 thumping’s at the hands of Sioux Falls West. Regionals start July 16 and Sturgis has the personnel to pull some upsets.

Post 320’s Isaac Dike takes a lead off first on the Titan’s Kain Peters (12). (Photo by Michele Davies) 

 

It was a difficult week for Rapid City Post 22. The defending state champs opened tournament play down in Omaha with a 15-11 win over Millard West. That would be the last ray of sunshine. They lost the next day 8-2 to Brandon Valley. Russellville, Arkansas, then downed those 10-1. Millard South beat them, 5-2, West Fargo pounded out 13 hits and beat them 16-8. Things were actually worse the next game as a 15U team from Las Vegas beat them 7-3. The Hardhats are now barely above .500 at 21-20. The pitching is an obvious problem, but the hitting has not been consistent, either. This points to one thing; it’s going to be a dogfight for the state title in 2021. Six teams have what it takes to get the job done, and although they are currently struggling, most experts will still favor Post 22 to defend their title.

One difference between this year and last, is the COVID impact. Many states did not allow play and so the teams from those states had to travel long distances. People had fewer games to watch and fewer things they could do besides watch Legion baseball, and so last year attendance was well up. This year there are smaller crowds, with no masks— the impact of COVID is being felt in the opposite way it was last year. The main post season difference will be teams can play for official championships this summer, and they can advance to regional play, and then on to the World Series in North Carolina. This was not possible last year.

(Contact James Giago Davies at skindiesel@msn.com)

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