The Dell Rapids high school club baseball team captured the 2021 South Dakota High School Baseball Association Class B title with three great games at Sioux Falls Stadium on Monday, May 31st and Tuesday, June 1st. Dell Rapids last won the state championship in 2017.
Dell Rapids opened the tournament against Gregory County on Monday and jumped out to a big lead early. Dell Rapids scored three times in the bottom of the first and six more in the bottom of the second for a quick 9-0 lead. They cruised from there as they defeated Gregory County 10-3 to advance to the semifinals.
Kaeden Eastman had the hot bat for Dell Rapids in the game. K. Eastman went 3-4 with three singles and three RBIs. Brayden Pankonen also had three hits with an RBI. Treyse Eastman finished with two hits. Landon Ruesink and Aiden Boechler both had an RBI in the game. Jack Henry pitched five innings giving up three runs, two earned, on three hits with eight walks and 11 strikeouts. Pankonen pitched the last two innings allowing no hits and had one strikeout.
Dell Rapids was then matched against Dakota Valley in the semifinals in their first game on Tuesday. Dakota Valley was one of the few class B teams that defeated Dell Rapids during the season, 8-1 on April 5th.
Austin Henry and Jake Pruchniak put on a pitching display for the fans. The two starting pitchers combined for no runs, three total hits, and 18 strikeouts through five innings of play. As the game moved forward, the intensity increased.
Dell Rapids put pressure on Dakota Valley in the bottom of the sixth inning. A. Henry started the inning with a double, but he was unable to advance as Pruchniak got out of the jam. Dakota Valley then got a one-out single in the top of the seventh inning, but that runner was stranded on first base. Dell Rapids had a lead-off hit to start the bottom of the seventh inning from Boechler, but again, Dell Rapids could not bring him home and the game went into extra innings.
Dakota Valley was retired in order in the top of the eighth inning. Dell Rapids, for the third inning in a row, got their leadoff hitter on base. Pankonen started the bottom of the eighth with a double. A. Henry was intentionally walked, and Ruesink followed with a bunt single to load the bases with no outs. K. Eastman came to the plate and dropped a single in front of a diving center fielder for the game-winning single giving Dell Rapids a 1-0 extra-inning win and sending them to the championship game.
Ruesink and Boechler both had two hits in the game. A. Henry and Pankonen each had a double. K. Eastman had a single and RBI. A. Henry pitched six innings giving up just one hit with five walks and 14 strikeouts. Pankonen pitched two innings to get the win allowing one hit and had one strikeout.
Dell Rapids met West Central in the championship game Tuesday evening.
West Central struck first in the top of the first inning scoring two runs on three hits and a walk for an early 2-0 lead. Dell Rapids cut the lead in half in the bottom of the second inning. Ruesink scored on an RBI groundout by J. Henry.
Dell Rapids then took advantage of one small slip by West Central in the bottom of the third. West Central got the first two batters out, but T. Eastman reached on an error with two outs. That error sparked Dell Rapids. Pankonen singled, A. Henry doubled, Ruesink singled, K. Eastman singled, and J. Henry doubled all after the error, and Dell Rapids scored five times to take a 6-2 lead after three innings of play.
Ruesink then put an exclamation point on the game with a two-run home run to left field in the bottom of the fifth inning to push the Dell Rapids lead to 8-2. Dell Rapids added one more run after an RBI sacrifice fly by Ruesink in the bottom of the sixth. Dell Rapids won the game by a final score of 9-2.
Ruesink was 3-3 in the game with a double and home run and four RBIs. K. Eastman had two more hits and an RBI. J. Henry had a double with two RBIs. A. Henry had a double and RBI. T. Eastman, Pankonen, and Will Jaton also had hits. T. Eastman pitched a complete game allowing two earned runs on four hits with four walks and five strikeouts.
Dell Rapids’ championship season ends with a 21-6 overall record.