GROTON – This one was as good as advertised.
Redfield rallied for two runs in the bottom of the seventh and walked off Vermillion 5-4 in a battle of two powers in the opening round of the American Legion Class B State Baseball Tournament at Locke-Karst Field Friday evening.
After Vermillion broke a 3-3 tie in the top of the seventh, Redfield responded with two runs in the bottom half of the frame, the game-winner driven in on a single by Keaton Rohlfs.
Vermillion intentionally walked Redfield’s cleanup hitter to load the bases for a force out at any base.
That motivated Rohlfs who came out swinging and drove a single to left to end the contest.
“To be honest, I was kind of mad that they put the (number) four batter on. That happened to me earlier in the year and I grounded out to the pitcher,” Rohlfs said. “Coach (Tommy Gregg) told me to go out there and see one. I wasn’t going to see one, though. The first pitch I liked I was swinging; get the win for my team. I’m glad I could do so.”
It was a contest that saw Vermillion score one run in each of the first three innings only to be matched by three runs for Redfield in the bottom of the third. Neither team then scored until the seventh.
Both had chances, but a diving catch by Redfield’s Christian DeYoung in centerfield stole a sure scoring opportunity for Vermillion in the fifth inning.
“He’s been around for a long time. The kid is a ball hawk,” Gregg said. “He made a play like that in ’19 with the bases loaded to keep those runs off the board. We’re not overly athletic, but our kids get good jumps.”
Vermillion’s Drew Thelen was solid on the mound as was Peyton Osborn of Redfield. The biggest difference in the contest was Redfield’s aggressiveness on the base paths. Redfield stole eight bases in the game, including a double steal in the seventh to help set up the eventual game-winning sequence.
Rohlfs said a key was getting good jumps.
“We figured out their pitcher, got big leads and then that led to stolen bases,” Rohlfs said. “That was huge.”
Redfield had three stolen bases to fuel its three-run third inning and three more in the seventh.
“We know that they have some good team speed,” said Vermillion coach Tom Heisinger. “The guys at the top of the order like to run, so it was a problem for us.”
In the end, it was Redfield who made just enough plays to win the marquee matchup.
“Going into this tournament I thought us and them are maybe two of the better teams here,” Heisinger said, “so it felt like a huge game for us and it was a huge game for us. We just told our kids it’s double elimination for a reason. We’re still alive. We can’t hang our heads.”
Vermillion faces Big Stone City in an elimination game at 10 this morning.
Osborn and DeYoung each had a pair of hits to lead Redfield, 22-3 on the season.
Redfield snapped Vermillion’s 17-game winning streak and extended its own streak to six straight. Redfield takes on Tabor at 5 this evening.
“Our goal is to get to Sunday undefeated. This group is playing well right now,” Gregg said. “We’ve had our back to the wall a little bit and we’re kind of reeling some off. We’ll just kind of go all in and see what happens.”
Vermillion 111 000 1 – 4 5 1
Redfield 003 000 2 – 5 7 1
Drew Thelen, Willis Robertson (6) and Timothy Tracy; Peyton Osborn and Keaton Rohlfs.
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