BY JAMES D. CIMBUREK
GROTON – Tabor took advantage of two hit batters and two hits in the bottom of the seventh inning to claim a 4-3 victory over Vermillion Post 1 in the South Dakota State Class B American Legion Baseball Tournament, Monday in Groton.
The victory sends Tabor (22-9) into the championship game against Redfield, a 1 p.m. start today. Redfield would have to beat Tabor twice to win the title.
“It’s unbelievable. Words can’t describe what I’m feeling,” said Tabor’s Nate Scieszinski, who plated the game-winning run in the seventh. “No team from Tabor has been in this position in a couple of years.”
Vermillion’s season ends with a 24-6 record.
Nolan Carda had two doubles and a RBI for Tabor. Nolan Dvorak, Kaden Kozak and Scieszinski each had a hit and a RBI. Riley Rothschadl and Dawson Bietz each had a hit in the victory.
Jack Kratz homered and doubled, scoring two of Vermillion’s three runs. Charlie Ward doubled and scored. Connor Saunders had a hit and a RBI.
Trent Herrboldt got the final five outs for the victory. Jake Jensen went the distance, taking the loss.
“We didn’t want to go to Trent unless we had the lead,” said Tabor head coach Gary Kortan. “I was confident we could score and he could keep them to one.”
Tabor wasted little time getting on the board in the first. Rothschadl led off with a single, and Carda doubled past a diving Vermillion outfielder to score the game’s first run. Dvorak followed with a single to score Carda.
From there, Tabor had just two hits over the next five innings.
“Jake got hit in the first. He had the confidence and found a way to settle in,” said Vermillion head coach Tom Heisinger. “I’m proud of that kid.”
Vermillion’s offense got going in the third. Ward led off with a double, advanced on a bunt and scored on a grounder. Kratz tied the game in the fourth, depositing the first pitch of the frame over the fence.
“We couldn’t get a lot of timely hits, but we found a way to scratch a couple runs across,” Heisinger said. “I’m proud of the way we hung in there. It just wasn’t in the cards.”
Kratz started the sixth inning rally that put Vermillion in the lead, posting a double to start the frame. A Dylan Thelen grounder got past a Tabor defender for an error, allowing Kratz to score. Tabor avoided further damage, leaving the bases full of Post 1 runners.
Though Tabor starter Dustin Honomichl did not get the win, he kept his team in the game until giving way to the bullpen in the sixth.
“We told Dustin if he kept them at one or two runs, we would score again,” Kortan said. “I didn’t think it would take until the last inning, but give them credit.”
Tabor thwarted Vermillion scoring chances in the top of the seventh, as the first and third outs of the inning came between third and home: one on a rundown and the other on a failed steal of home.
In the bottom of the inning, Herrboldt and Bietz were hit by pitches to start the frame. Kozak flipped a single to right to tie the game. Scieszinski followed, singling to left to plate the game-winning run.
As Kozak and Scieszinski waited for a Vermillion mound visit to end, Kortan pulled the two aside.
“The biggest thing (he said) was put the ball in play,” Scieszinski said. “We both did that and it worked out for us.”
Kortan is confident in Tabor’s chances on the final day.
“We just need to be patient at the plate. Looking at their pitching, they already have four guys they’ve burned up,” he said. Four of Redfield’s pitchers are not able to pitch today due to pitch count rules. “We have good guys (pitchers) left.”
Vermillion 001 101 0 – 3 5 1
Tabor 200 000 2 – 4 7 2
Jake Jensen and TJ Tracy; Dustin Honomichl, Trent Herrboldt (6) and Nolan Dvorak. 2B – Vermillion, Charlie Ward, Jack Kratz; Tabor, Nolan Carda (2). HR – Vermillion, Kratz.
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