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Mitchell bats pound out 16 hits in 15-5 win over Valley Springs
By By Tom Savage
For the Challenger

July 30. 2013 10:32AM
It was a true pitcher’s duel through four innings Wednesday afternoon in the Region 2A Legion baseball tournament at Harmodon Park between Valley Springs’ Tommy Gardner and Mitchell’s Derek Miller.

The scoreboard finally got a workout in the fifth inning when both teams scored, and Mitchell outlasted Brandon Valley 15-5 in eight innings because of the mercy rule. Mitchell qualified for the state tournament in Rapid City next week.

Post 131 also clinched a state tournament berth on Wednesday with an 11-1 win over Post 15 West, which finished third.

Miller retired nine straight to start the game for Mitchell before giving a single in the fourth to Cole VanderBeek. The right-hander pitched a solid game, going seven innings and giving up seven hits.

“I always go out there thinking that I have the best defense in the state around me,” Miller said. “I was a little nervous at the beginning, but when we put up runs, it really relaxed me. My curve ball and change up felt good, and my fastball had something on it today.”

Miller didn’t get much offensive help in the beginning, as Mitchell left seven batters on base through four innings. But the sixth inning proved to be the difference as Mitchell scored nine times and to break the game open.

“We don’t rely on big innings like that,” Mitchell coach Luke Norden said. “We try and score a run every inning if we can, but when scoring is contagious like that, it can snowball.”

In hindsight, the decision to replace Gardner after five innings was a nightmare for Valley Springs. Gardner had given up five hits and two runs after five, but had also thrown around 100 pitches. He was replaced by Luke Bauske to start the sixth.
Bauske faced seven batters and gave up five hits, six runs and two walks without recording an out.

“He wasn’t working ahead very well and it was starting to get to him,” Post 131 coach Grant Hieb said of Gardner’s departure. “He’s usually lights out. Rather than waste him down, if we have to play on Saturday in the play-in game, I’d like to have him back.”

Mitchell sent 15 batters to the plate in the sixth. Valley Springs used three different pitchers, and the big damage came from Dylanger Pierson’s bases-clearing double that made it 8-2. The double towered over center fielder Nic Peterson’s head and reached the 410-foot mark of the center field wall.

Pierson finished the day 3-for-6 with 5 RBI. Josh Schmidt also had 4 RBI for Mitchell, going 3-for-3 from the plate.

“We’ve had some innings like that before, but not against a team like Brandon Valley,” Pierson said of the nine-run sixth. “This is great. We feel pretty good going into state and we’re ready to take home some hardware.”

Valley Springs tried to make a game of it in the seventh when they scored three times and brought nine players to the plate. But a bases loaded ground out by Dylan Tibke ended a chance to close the gap.

“That was a chance for us,” Hieb said. “You get a get a couple more hits there and you’re right back in it.”

VS 000 011 300 – 5 7 2
Mitchell – 000 029 04x -15 16 2

VS – Tommy Gardner, Luke Bauske (6) Derek Johnson (6), Reed Grode (7) and Jacob Mulder and Alec Finch.
Mitchell – Derek Miller, Tyler Howman (8) and Michael Sadler.

Post 131 second baseman Cole VanderBeek steps on base for a force out before throwing to home in Wednesday's 15-5 loss in Region 2A tournament action against Mitchell. In the background is right fielder Jacob Bruget. Photo by Jill Meier

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