GROTON – The numbers do not even begin to tell the story.
Vermillion, despite managing just three hits, took advantage of one chance after another to defeat Lake Norden-Badger 8-4 in an elimination game during the American Legion Class State B Baseball Tournament at Locke-Karst Field Sunday afternoon.
Through a variety of LN-B miscues, Vermillion had 17 total base runners in the contest.
“I’m smiling about it now, but I’d like for us to get a few more hits than that,” said Vermillion coach Tom Heisinger. “We preach baserunners and we definitely had that. It was just a crazy game.”
How crazy? In the top of the second inning Vermillion scored six runs on just one hit. The squad took advantage of three walks, one hit batter, three errors, two wild pitches and a passed ball.
The lone hit was a two-run single from Drew Thelen, who finished with two of his team’s three hits and scored three times.
The inning erased a four-run deficit and left Vermillion with a two-run lead. Lake Norden-Badger half of its eight hits in the first inning, including a pair of doubles.
“It was kind of crazy game to start off. They punched us right in the face right away. We took that,” Thelen said. “We knew we could compete with anybody here. We knew we were one of the best hitting teams here in the state tournament, so we weren’t down at all. We knew we could come back and score runs.”
Vermillion not only scored runs, but starting pitcher Jacob Chaussee survived a difficult start and ended up finishing strong, at one point retiring 11 batters in a row.
“Jacob Chaussee on the mound didn’t have his best stuff in the first inning, but he’s a guy that’s been around for us for a long time. He just kept his cool and went back out and battled for us,” Heisinger said. “He really settled in. We were thinking about maybe getting him out of there after the first, but now I’m glad we didn’t because he battled for us.”
Vermillion also sent a message on the basepaths with aggressive running. It had a runner gunned down at the plate, but also finished with six stolen bases and kept the pressure on LN-B.
“We were very good on the basepaths. We were stealing a bunch of bases,” Thelen said. “We were getting good jumps and reads on the pitchers, so we were mixing stuff up on the basepaths.”
Vermillion will face unbeaten Tabor in the second game this evening. Vermillion, which lost to Redfield in the opening round, has won back-to-back elimination contests.
“It’s great for our kids. I’m glad the way we battled back after that first-round loss,” Heisinger said. “Backs against the wall, in some ways it makes it easier, because you’re not really thinking about saving pitching or anything for tomorrow because you’re not guaranteed that.”
Vermillion 060 100 1 – 8 3 0
Lake Norden-Badger 400 00 0 – 4 8 6
Jacob Chaussee and TJ Tracy; Cameron Thue, Dawson Noem (4) and Cristhian Rodriquez. 2B – Lake Norden-Badger, Jackson Noem, Dawson Noem, Thue.
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