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Vermillion bounces back to blank Big Stone City

Jack Kratz, of Vermillion Post 1, center, throws to first base after making the force out at second on Hunter Merritt, of Big Stone City Post 229 during Saturday’s game at the South Dakota American Legion State Class B Baseball Tournament at Locke-Karst Field in Groton. Photo by John Davis taken 7/31/2021

GROTON – Big Stone City never got its groove back.

After winning the Region 1B tournament to get into this week’s American Legion Class State B baseball tournament, the Badgers could not find a way to scratch a single run across in two games, falling 14-0 Saturday to Vermillion in a state tourney elimination game at Groton’s Karst-Locke Field.

Vermillion, which dropped a 5-4 walk-off decision to Redfield on Friday, rebounded in a big way Saturday.

While starter Jake Jensen held Big Stone City to just three or four batters per inning through the opening four frames, Vermillion turned on the proverbial jets offensively, racking up 13 hits, six walks and nine stolen bases in the five-inning victory.

“I think we came into today more relaxed,” said Vermillion’s Jacob Chaussee. “We just knew we were going to have a fun time. When we’re loose we hit better and we feel better.”

Vermillion made its intentions to be aggressive on the base paths known early, often breaking for the next base on the first pitch of an at bat. Charlie Ward even scored from second base on a ground ball to the second baseman, as the Badgers tried to turn an inning-ending double play. Ward never slowed down rounding third and scored easily when Big Stone City held onto the ball a heartbeat too long at first.

“That’s something we feel we can use to our advantage,” said Vermillion coach Tom Heisinger. “We have a lot of speed and we work on it in practice, just getting in the pitcher’s head and timing him up and seeing if we can take an extra base.”

Connor Saunders and Jake Jensen each drove in four runs to power the victory.

Vermillion moves on to play Lake Norden in another elimination contest today.

“I think it gives us some confidence,” Heisinger said. “Obviously the loss was tough, but survive and advance from here on out. We got some confidence back and putting some runs up on the board is always fun.”

Vermillion 025 70 – 14 13 0

Big Stone City 000 00 – 0 4 3

Jake Jensen, Ben Burbach (4), Clayton Sorenson (5) and TJ Tracy; Dru Boots, Hunter Merritt (4), Carter Braun (4) and Deaven Boots. 2B – Vermillion, Tracy, Jack Kratz.

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