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Smittys dominate two foes to start tourney

Carter Dingman, of the Aberdeen Smittys, fouls off a pitch during a game earlier this season against Groton Post 39 at Locke/Karst Field in Groton. Dingman had four hits and drove in four runs during a pair of victories Friday at a tournament in Sioux Falls. Photo by John Davis taken 6/6/2022

SIOUX FALLS – The Aberdeen Smittys got back to their winning ways in a big way Friday afternoon.

The Smittys racked up 25 hits, including eight doubles, on the way to a pair of lopsided American Legion baseball victories during the Dakota Classic Tournament. Aberdeen rolled past Sioux Falls Post 15 by a 16-1 margin, and then defeated Lennox 9-1. The wins snapped a three-game losing skid.

“There were lots of great things to take away from today,” said Smittys coach Brandon Kusler.

Aberdeen received a strong pitching effort from Brian Holmstrom in the opener. He scattered five hits through six innings and struck out seven batters.

“Brian Holmstrom gave us one of his best starts of the year,” Kusler said. “He commanded the zone very well and had all his stuff working.”

Holmstrom received plenty of run support as the Smittys had five doubles to power the victory. Carter Dingman and Josh Steinwandt each had two-run doubles to fuel an eight-run sixth inning.

Dingman finished with three hits in the contest, while Drew Salfrank, Jaiden Smith and Brendan Livermont each had a pair in the 13-hit assault. Salfrank, Smith, Steinwandt and Dingman all drove in two runs apiece.

“Our offense was great,” Kusler said. “The entire lineup is putting balls in play and putting pressure on the defense which is allowing us to get on base and produce runs.”

The second game was much the same as the Smittys received another solid pitching effort against Lennox. Brock Martin struck out a dozen batters in less than five innings and allowed just one earned run.

“Brock Martin was very solid on the hill and had a lot of life on his fastball all day. Twelve strikeouts through 4 and 2/3 innings is very impressive,” Kusler said. “When he can work ahead in counts and throw multiple pitches for strikes, he’s really tough to beat. I was very impressed by him today, because I know he’s capable of being even better, and even when he doesn’t have his best stuff, he’s still super competitive and difficult to beat.”

Aberdeen used a pair of four-run innings to highlight the offensive attack.

Dingman and Salfrank each delivered two-run doubles in a four-run second inning. Casey Vining had a two-run double to power a four-run fifth frame.

Salfrank, Smith, Vining and Holmstrom each had two hits in a 12-hit effort. Salfrank, Vining and Dingman each drove in a pair of runs.

“The offense also just carried over into game two,” Kusler said. “We were able to put a couple really solid innings together with some big hits to score some runs.”

Aberdeen, 15-11 on the season, takes on the Crookston Pirates at 3:30 this afternoon during the three-day tourney.

“It’s a great start to the tournament,” Kusler of Friday’s wins, “and we’re looking forward to carry this momentum into (Saturday).”

Aberdeen Smittys 022 138 – 16 13 1

Sioux Falls Post 15 000 100 – 1 5 2

Brian Holmstrom and Andrew Woehl; Bryan Top, Duin (2), Hvam (4), Marshall (4) and Stroh. 2B – Aberdeen Smittys, Carter Dingman 2, Nick Clemens, Brendan Livermont, Josh Steinwandt; Sioux Falls, Poescher.

Lennox 001 000 – 1 2 0

Aberdeen Smittys 040 041 – 9 12 1

Connor Eich, Isaac Bambas (6) and Dougherty; Brock Martin, Jaiden Smith (5) and Brian Holmstrom. 2B – Aberdeen Smittys, Brian Holmstrom 2, Casey Vining.

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