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Smittys snap skid with pair of victories in Rapid City tourney

Drew Salfrank, of the Aberdeen Smittys, right, connects for an RBI ground rule double in the fifth inning of a game against Renner earlier this season at Fossum Field. Catching behind the plate for Renner is Tristin Van Wassenhove, left. Salfrank had four hits in a pair of victories Friday in a tournament in Rapid City. Photo by John Davis taken 6/24/2022

RAPID CITY – The Aberdeen Smittys ended their six-game losing streak in dramatic fashion and then started a new streak on Friday.

The Smittys walked off Sturgis 7-6 before outscoring Belle Fourche 10-7 during an American Legion baseball tournament on Friday.

“It definitely felt good to get back into the win column,” said Smittys coach Brandon Kusler. “We didn’t play our best baseball in game one against Sturgis, but I’m proud of the guys for finding a way to get it done and get a much-needed league win. Before today, we had lost eight consecutive league contests, so getting that win vs. Sturgis was crucial.”

Casey Vining delivered a one-out single to center in the bottom of the seventh inning to provide the final margin of difference.

The Smittys trailed 6-5 after giving up two runs in the top of the seventh. Drew Salfrank started the game-winning tally with a triple before Brock Martin tied the game on a double setting the stage for Vining.

Aberdeen scored five times in the fourth inning as Josh Steinwandt, Ethan Kjenstad and Carter Dingman each drove in runs with singles.

Salfrank and Steinwandt each finished with a pair of hits.

The Smittys then stopped Belle Fourche, setting the tone with five runs in the opening inning.

“A walk-off win like that can really boost our team’s momentum, and I thought we carried that into game two,” Kusler said. “We definitely played better baseball in game two despite giving up seven runs.”

Brian Holmstrom pitched into the sixth inning before giving way to Steinwandt.

“Holmstrom did a great job of challenging hitters and forcing them to beat us instead of beating ourselves by allowing free passes,” Kusler said, “and with the way we swung bats, Brian and Josh did enough on the mound for us to come away with a win.”

Salfrank stole home, Vining and Steinwandt had RBI doubles, and Andrew Richardson drove in a run with a single to highlight the bottom of the first.

The Smittys added two more runs in the fourth as Martin doubled, Jaiden Smith tripled and then scored on an error.

Aberdeen produced three runs in the fifth as Holmstrom and Martin wrapped RBI doubles around a run-scoring single by Salfrank.

Martin led a 13-hit attack for the Smittys with three hits. Salfrank, Vining and Dingman each had two hits.

The Smittys, 18-17 on the season, take on Spearfish at 10 this morning to wrap up play in the tourney.

“We’re hoping to carry this momentum into another important league game vs. Spearfish (Saturday),” Kusler said.

Sturgis 100 111 2 – 6 6 5

Aberdeen Smittys 000 500 2 – 7 8 5

Owen Cass and Stroud; Casey Vining, Jaiden Smith (6) and Andrew Woehl. 2B – Sturgis, Kooima; Aberdeen Smittys, Brock Martin. 3B – Aberdeen Smittys, Drew Salfrank.

Belle Fourche 000 052 – 7 7 3

Aberdeen Smittys 500 23x – 10 13 3

Dalton Davis and Walding; Brian Holmstrom, Josh Steinwandt (6) and Andrew Richardson. 2B – Belle Fourche, Carbajal; Aberdeen Smittys, Brock Martin 2, Casey Vining, Holmstrom, Steinwandt. 3B – Aberdeen Smittys, Jaiden Smith. HR – Belle Fourche, Nolan Wahlfeldt.

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