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Tabor eliminates Clark-Willow Lake from state tourney

Tabor’s Landon Bares connects with a pitch for a triple during Sunday’s game against Clark-Willow Lake at the South Dakota American Legion Class B State Tournament in Redfield. Photo by John Davis taken 7/30/2023

REDFIELD – Tabor scored eight runs in the second inning to help fuel a 13-1 victory over Clark-Willow Lake in an elimination contest Sunday afternoon at the State B Legion Baseball Tournament.

Tabor produced those runs on just four hits, but three of them drove in multiple runs.

Jackson Caba had a two-run single, Landon Bares added a two-run triple, and Jace Toupal brought home a pair with a single during the pivotal inning.

The contest marked the second straight day that Clark-Willow Lake had a difficult time with opposing hitters.

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“The thing that really hurt us today and (Saturday) was our pitchers weren’t efficient,” said CWL coach Chris Bokinskie. “It caused us all sorts of problems.”

Of course, Tabor has a lineup that can cause all sorts of problems for a lot of opposing teams.

Brady Bierema had three hits, while Riley Rothschadl, Bares and Caba each added two. Rothschadl has yet to make an out in three tournament games.

While Tabor lost its opening round contest, the Bluebirds saved their top pitchers in the process and are now set up for a strong finish to the tournament.

“Our plan coming in was we weren’t going to burn up our pitchers the first couple of days,” said Tabor coach Gary Kortan. “We’ve done that before in the past and it didn’t work out for us.”

As a result, Tabor now has its strongest arms set to go for the stretch run of the tourney.

“We’re set up perfectly going into these last couple of days,” Kortan said. “We still have our one and two and three.”

Of course, losing in the opening round puts Tabor’s backs against the wall the rest of the way, but Kortan will live with that.

“When your backs against the wall you’re just going to be more focused,” Kortan said. “You’re going to hit better, you’re going to pitch better. Unfortunately, that’s where we’re at, but we’ll take it.”

Tabor takes on Redfield in another elimination game at 4 this afternoon.

Clark-Willow Lake managed just two hits, one of those an RBI single by Trey Huber in the fifth inning.

Clark-Willow Lake’s Lucas Kannegieter, right, looks back for the ruling as he tags the raised foot of Tabor’s Brady Bierema, left, after Bierema slid past third base during Sunday’s game at the South Dakota American Legion Class B State Tournament in Redfield. Photo by John Davis taken 7/30/2023

While Clark-Willow Lake’s season came to an end, it was a remarkable journey for the Senators, who were playing in their first state tourney since 1987.

“We were a .500 team all year. We hosted a Legion tournament in Clark and we played well in that. That’s when our kids started believing,” Bokinskie said. “We rolled with that momentum all the way through the region tournament.”

He is hoping that getting a taste of the state tourney this year will benefit the squad next season.

“I believe the experience will pay off and they’ll expect to compete and hopefully be back down in Salem next year for the state tournament,” Bokinskie said.

Tabor 182 02 – 13 13 0

Clark-Willow Lake 000 01 – 1 2 2

Landon Schmidt, Jace Toupal (5) and Logan Winckler; Dawson Lanten, Cooper Pommer (2) and Jakob Steen. 3B – Tabor, Landon Bares.

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