BY MICHAEL HAMMOND | Yankton Press & Dakotan
August 10, 2016 | Alexandria 9, Freeman 2
MITCHELL, S.D. — The Alexandria Angels used a five-run fifth inning to fuel themselves into the third round of the South Dakota State “B” Amateur Baseball Tournament with a 9-2 win over the Freeman Black Sox at Cadwell Park in Mitchell.
The win marked the 25th of the year for Alexandria who remain undefeated in 2016.
After a slow start against Freeman’s Brett Scherschligt, with just two hits through four innings, the Angels put two runners in scoring position with one out in the fifth before Jarrod Zens and Peyton Smith hit back-to-back singles to bring in the first three runs of the game. Cole Wenande followed that up with a two-run home run to left, bringing in Smith.
“Biggest difference in the fifth was that we got our leadoff hitter on,” Angels’ manager Chris Marek said. “It puts pressure on the defense and Brett did a real good job in the first four innings, but once we got that we were able to make some things happen.”
Wenande’s homer was just the fourth one hit in the spacious Cadwell Park through 23 games of the tournament.
“Cole swings hard, Cole is a good hitter, so at any moment he has the potential of doing that,” Marek said. “He just put a good swing on a good pitch, he fought off a couple pitches in the at-bat, and the ball carried out of the park.”
The Angels then tacked on three in the seventh on RBI-hits from Smith, Wenande, and Tyson Gau and another in the eighth on a Zens double. In total, Alexandria scored nine runs on 14 hits and zero errors.
Freeman had no problems getting runners on, drawing five walks and two hit-by-pitches, collecting six hits, and reaching on two errors, but left thirteen runners on base including seven in scoring position. The lone runs came when Jake Weier was hit in by Kyle Weier in the seventh and again by Scherschligt in the ninth. Jake Weier led the team with two hits and added two walks.
Gau picked up the win for Alexandria, throwing seven innings and giving up one run on six hits, five walks, and six strikeouts.
“Tyson pitched in a very gutsy performance,” Marek said. “He showed how tough he is out there because he battled and kept us in the ball game by working his butt off on the mound.”
Smith led the Angels with three hits in five at-bats while adding two runs and two RBI. Zens and Wanande each recorded two hits and a team-high three RBI.
Pitching against the Angels for the third straight state tournament, Scherschligt picked up the loss, pitching seven innings and giving up eight runs on 13 hits, one walk, and five strikeouts.
Scherschligt pitched as a pick-up player for Wynot and pitched in the championship against Alexandria in 2014 before pitching against them in the first round a year ago.
“The plan was just to keep them off balance, moving spots, and let them put it in play, that’s what I do,” Scherschligt said. “It worked for 80 percent of the game, but the two innings were big and it hurt us.
The loss ends Freeman’s season at 10-15, but Scherschligt, the team’s manager, took the positives from the season and playing in the state tournament.
“It’s a blast playing here and winning a ball game is even better,” Scherschligt said. “We had a rough stretch this year and we turned it around quickly for districts and here (state tournament), nothing to be down about, just come back next year and play hard.
Going forward, Alexandria will try to ride the undefeated season all the way to the state championship game, where they lost the previous two years after winning in 2013.
“I think the key is being effective offensively,” Marek said. “We have excellent pitching, but we need to make sure we support them and give them a lead because pitching is much more easy and comfortable when we give them a lead.”