The Dell Rapids 16U baseball team rebounded from a heart-breaking opening round loss to finish fifth at the 2021 South Dakota VFW Class A State Tournament held Friday, August 6th through Sunday, August 8th in Madison.
Dell Rapids opened the tournament on Friday against Dakota Valley, the eventual state champions, losing in a heart-breaker 4-3. Will Jaton put Dell Rapids on the board first with a two-run single in the top of the first inning. Dakota Valley scored one in the bottom of the inning, giving Dell Rapids a 2-1 lead after one complete inning. CJ Smith had an RBI single in the top of the sixth inning to push the lead to 3-1. Dakota Valley answered with a run of their own in the bottom of the sixth, and Dell Rapids led 3-2 heading into the final inning. Dell Rapids was held scoreless in their half of the seventh. But with two outs in the bottom of the seventh, Dakota Valley got the tying run on a passed ball, and the winning run scoring on a single.
Jaton had a single and two RBIs in the game. Smith had a single and an RBI. Aiden Boechler had a double. Brayden Pankonen and Dylan Mathis each had a single. Pankonen pitched six innings allowing two runs, one earned, on six hits with one walk and five strikeouts. Joe Rechtenbaugh pitched 2/3 of an inning allowing two runs, one earned, on two hits with a walk.
Dell Rapids held off a late rally by Madison White to win their second game of the tournament, 8-7, on Saturday. Dell Rapids scored first again in the top of the first inning when Boechler scored on an error. Madison tied the game in the bottom of the first. Madison would take a short-lived lead with a run in the bottom of the second inning. Dell Rapids scored three times in the top of the third inning. Mathis, Smith, and Sutton Williams all had RBI singles to give Dell Rapids a 4-2 lead. They would score three more times in the top of the fourth inning. Jaton had a two-run single followed by an RBI ground out by Mathis to push the lead to 7-2. Madison would get two runs in the bottom of the fifth inning to cut the lead to 7-4. Dell Rapids got a big insurance run in the top of the seventh. Rechtenbaugh had an RBI ground out to put Dell Rapids ahead 8-4. That RBI proved to be the difference as Madison scored three times and had the bases loaded before the final out was recorded.
Brayden Fersdahl and Boechler each had two hits. Jaton and Mathis both had a single and two RBIs. Smith, Williams, and Rechtenbaugh all had one hit and one RBI in the game. Jaton pitched 6 2/3 innings allowing seven runs, six earned, on 11 hits with three walks and three strikeouts. Smith got the final out on a strikeout, but also allowed three walks.
In the consolation championship game on Sunday, Dell Rapids rallied with three runs in the bottom of the seventh inning, and then got one run in the bottom of the eighth to get a walk-off 7-6 win over Volga to take fifth place in the tournament. Volga put the pressure on Dell Rapids right away with a five-run top of the first inning. Dell Rapids got three runs back in the bottom of the third inning. John Mortrude scored on a wild pitch, Evan Nelson scored on a passed ball, and Boechler had an RBI single. The score remained 5-3 until the seventh inning. Volga added a run in the top of the inning to make it a 6-3 ballgame. Dell Rapids then put together a rally in the bottom of the seventh. The first three batters reached, and then Mortrude reached on an error scoring Smith. Ethan Kringen had the game-tying, two-run single to tie the game at 6-6 and force extra innings.
Volga nearly took the lead in the top of the eighth inning. After two one-out walks, a single to center field nearly drove home a run, but Micah Pickard hit the cutoff man Jaton, who relayed the ball home to Williams to get a runner out a home for the second out. The next batter lined out to Fersdahl in left to end the inning for Volga. With momentum on their side, Mathis laced a one-out triple to center field. Smith followed with a ground ball to shortstop that scored Mathis from third as the winning run in the game.
Kringen had a hit and two RBIs. Smith and Boechler each had a single and an RBI. Mathis finished with a triple. Fersdahl, Williams, and Rechtenbaugh each had a single as well. Mortrude finished with an RBI. Rechtenbaugh pitched 4 1/3 innings allowing five runs, all unearned, on four hits with five walks and two strikeouts. Smith pitched 3 2/3 innings giving up an earned run on three hits with three walks.