RAPID CITY, S.D. (KELO) — The Class ‘A’ State Legion Baseball Tournament is moving west this week as eight teams will play for the state title in Rapid City.
Unlike the Class ‘B’ tournament, the Class ‘A’ field is separated for seed, which means the teams are sorted by their performance in the regular season.
GAME 1: #1 BROOKINGS VS. #8 PIERRE
Brookings is the top-seed in this year’s tournament and they’ll meet Pierre, who is the lone team to earn an upset in the first round of the playoffs.
Post 74 finished the season with a 29-11 record. They earned a sweep of Sturgis to advance to the state tournament. They’ve now won ten straight games.
Offense has been the Bandits’ strength this year as they are scoring more than six runs per game this season. Their defense has been solid, but not as strong as they’re allowing 4.7 runs per contest.
As long as their offense continues to produce, Brookings will be a tough team to beat in the state tournament.
Pierre played a lot of games this summer as they finished 19-20. They earned the two game sweep of Renner to advance to the state tournament.
The Post 8 offense has been solid down the stretch as they’re scoring nearly six runs per game. They’ve been led by Lincoln Kienholz, who is batting .456 with 36 hits and five homeruns.
Defensively, Pierre’s team ERA is a little higher than they would like at 4.78, but they’ve got some big pitching performances from a couple pitchers.
Kienholz has thrown 26.1 innings and he owns an impressive .532 ERA. Brecken Krueger has thrown 30.1 innings and his ERA sits at 1.22. Those two have been steady all year long for Post 8.
Brookings and Pierre are set to play on Wednesday at 10:00 a.m. Mountain Time or 11 a.m. Central Time.
GAME 2: #3 MITCHELL VS. #6 RAPID CITY POST 320
The second game of the tournament is set to begin at 1 p.m. central time on Wednesday. Mitchell will meet Rapid City Post 320 in the 3 vs. 6 matchup.
Mitchell owns a strong 25-13 record for the season and much of that success can be credited to their offense. Post 18 has scored 274 runs in their 38 games this season. That’s more than seven runs per game.
Dylan Soulek has paced Mitchell with his .421 batting average and 45 hits. Jonah Schmidt has been nearly as impressive with a .395 average.
Post 18 owns a strong team ERA as well as it sits at 3.48. That has been led by Jake Helleloid who has thrown 51.2 innings. That’s ten more than any other pitcher. In those innings, he owns a 1.89 ERA. That’s a lot of innings to throw and still have a sub-two earned run average.
Rapid City Post 320 has played 49 games this season and in that process, they’ve scored 355 runs. That’s 7.2 runs per game this season.
Lane Darrow and Gavyn Dansby have been incredible in 2022. Darrow owns a team high .419 average, while Dansby sits at .403.
The pitching staff owns a team ERA of 4.08. Their ace is Jett Wetzler who has thrown an impressive 54 innings this season. He has struck out 40, while owning a 2.46 earned run average.
These two teams are very similar as they both have solid pitching staffs and the ability to score some runs. That’ll make game two really fun on Wednesday.
GAME 3: #4 BRANDON VALLEY VS. #5 SIOUX FALLS EAST
The third game of the day will feature Brandon Valley and Sioux Falls East. A matchup of two teams who have had plenty of success in recent seasons.
With the defending champion, Renner eliminated, the highest team from last year’s state tournament is Post 15 East who finished runner-up in 2021.
Brandon Valley is 28-13 this season and they finished the year as the fourth seed.
Offensively, Post 131 has scored 246 runs this year, that’s six runs per contest.
Austin Reiter leads the team with a .353 batting average, followed closely by Logan Kelling (.342) and Ayden Spicer (.339). A big key to their offense is their ability to steal bases. BV has swiped 144 bases this season.
Brandon Valley has four pitchers with an ERA below three. That includes Sam Sejnoha (1.37), Jared Zerr (1.52), Nick Hokenstad (2.53), Aiden Zerr (2.69) and Trey Sejnoha (2.72).
The team earned run average is a strong 3.35.
Sioux Falls East has played 45 games this summer and they own a strong 32-13 record.
The offense has been solid all around as Post 15 East is scoring nearly 7.5 runs per game this season. The bats have come alive, especially as of late. In the final week of the season, East put up 59 runs in seven games.
On the other side of the ball, the defense has been solid allowing 4.22 runs per game.
The two teams will meet at 5 p.m. central time.
GAME 4: #2 RAPID CITY POST 22 VS. #7 HARRISBURG
The fourth and final game of the first day of the state tournament features the tournament host, Rapid City Post 22 against Harrisburg.
Rapid City Post 22 had the best win percentage against teams in South Dakota Class ‘A’ play. They finished 18-3 in league play.
The state saw the Hardhat bats come to life as Post 22 scored 171 runs in league contests this season. That’s 8.1 runs per contest.
While their offense has been strong, their defense has been even more impressive. They’ve allowed just 72 runs, that’s a league scoring margin of +99. They’re allowing just 3.4 runs to their opponents per game.
Harrisburg played 32 total games this year and they plated 200 runs while going 17-15. That’s more than six runs scored per game.
It’s by no surprise that they were led by Tyman Long who batted .385 with 30 hits and 16 homeruns. Four other Post 45 players are above .300 including Teigan Munce (.338), Jack Sutton (.333), and Noah Boschee (.324).
Harrisburg’s offense has been strong, but their pitching staff has been even better. They own a 3.97 team ERA thanks in part to the performance from Braxton Kusler who has thrown 45.2 innings this season, with an ERA of 2.45.
The final game of the first day of the tournament will begin at 8 p.m.
KELOLAND News will have plenty of coverage from the five day tournament. You can find coverage both on-air and online on the sports page.