By Steve Peterson
Winner-Colome’s heavy hitters and dominating pitcher stopped the Akron Rebels’ dream in the quarterfinal round of the South Dakota State Amateur Baseball Tournament with a 4-1 defeat Aug. 15 in Sioux Falls, S.D.
The Rebels, a team with nine courageous players for the game due to injuries, was trying to reach the state tournament Class B semifinals for the first time in the squad’s 31-year history but came up against a one-hit pitcher, the Pheasants’ Derek Graesser, two runs with two out and another “insurance” run short.
Graesser regularly hit 75 to 90 MPH on the radar gun as he fired a one-hit gem in a game that lasted only 90 minutes. He walked two and struck out 10 Rebels. He was the losing pitcher in last year’s loss to the Rebels at the first state tournament round but was lights out on a heavy jacket required August night which was 20 degrees below the average high.
“We ran into a pitcher tonight. But we had a great season,” said Rebels Coach Paul Martin.
The Pheasants came into the game with an 19-2 record and showed why they, too, have had a season for the record books. Three of the four runs scored were leadoff hits.
In the second, the Pheasants’ Dane Driscoll, a 0.428 hitter, singled and later scored on a Rebels’ error on a one-out play for a 1-0 lead. After a single by J.J. Farner, Rebels’ starting pitcher Randall Waterbury snared a line drive and threw to first base for a double play.
Another double play by the Akron squad turned the game into their favor for a fleeting few moments. Jared Kirkeby made a nice running catch in right field for the second out, then turned and threw a strike to first baseman Jordan Heyl for a double play in the Winner-Colome fourth.
Adam Loutsch gained the Rebels’ only hit of the game. The catcher moved to second base on a sacrifice by Heyl. Loutsch then stole third base. He came home for a 1-1 tie on a wild pitch by Graesser, the pitcher’s lone big mistake of the night. Graesser bore down and got a pop out to end the inning and the Rebels could not add on.
Winner-Colome took control of the contest in the fifth inning. Blake Nielsen led off with a walk. He moved to second and third on a stolen base and an error. Two outs later, Austin Calhoon, a 0.549 hitter, ripped a single off Waterbury for a 2-1 Winner-Colome lead. Dillon Lambley, a 0.413 hitter, did the same, for a 3-1 margin. Waterbury got the next hitter on a fly ball.
Farner, a 0.347 hitter, had an RBI double in the Pheasants’ sixth inning to score Austin Richey, who had walked. Kirkeby was pitching in relief that inning. It was a 4-1 lead with only three innings left, but Martin tried to rally the forces saying there’s a lot of baseball left. The Rebels had scored 15 runs in two state tournament wins, the second most in Class B.
Graesser would have none of any rally thoughts as he owned this night much like Kirkeby did in a no-hitter for the Rebels on Aug. 7 in the first state tournament round, a 7-0 Rebels’ domination of Plankington.
Waterbury reached on a hit-by-pitch, probably one of those 90 MPH fastballs, to lead off the sixth but three quick outs followed. The seventh, eighth and ninth innings were just one, two and three each time for the Akron team.
Winner-Colome advanced with a 20-2 record to Saturday’s semifinal round.
For the Rebels
Loutsch was 1-for-3 with one run scored.
Kirkeby reached on a walk.
Mike Davenport reached on a walk.
Waterbury reached on a hit-by-pitch. All others took “the collar.”
In pitching Waterbury started and took the loss. He worked five innings, allowing seven hits and two walks. Kirkeby worked three innings and allowed one run and one walk and fanned one.
The final out of the Rebels’ ninth inning was a ground ball to second base. Moments later, Rebels fans stood and cheered their 18-victory season as if to say “Thanks for the memories.”
Indeed, thanks for the first no-hitter for nine innings in state tournament history since 1948 (which was three years after the last Cubs’ World Series) by Kirkeby and the game-and no-hit sliding catch by Noah Bohlmann.
There was the timely hits and pitching of Blaze Hanson (4-2 pitching record) in the second round 8-5 win over Wynot at state that included a towering two-run home run by Bohlmann. The Rebels had the clutch hitting of shortstop Davenport, 0.343 average, throughout the season. The catching and hitting and pitching of Tanner Bundy. Brett Stolpe (0.314 average), had some key hits and played stellar second base as well as pitched. Adam Loutsch filled in as catcher for the final game as well as during the year and contributed offense.
Also, Coach Martin worked the third base coaches’ box and continued his playing career at age 51.
Third baseman Scott Jacobs had a 0.269 batting average before being hurt in the state tournament. Matt Hoines was a state tournament addition from Beresford, S.D., and replaced Jacobs at third.
Bohlmann, a Northwestern College alumnus, had a 0.512 batting average. Chad Brown had some key state tournament hits in the wins and played stellar left field. Heyl hit 0.222 and played at first base. Doug Loutsch contributed well but had his season ended with an injury. Ben Brown added pitching depth. Kirkeby had a 5-0 pitching record and hit 0.278. Also pitching in this year was baseball man and super sub Eric Blake and David Berkes.
The post-season started with an 8-1 win over Vermillion Grey Sox in which Bundy got the pitching win. Bohlmann had a three-run home run.
The Rebels then lost a 9-0 district game to Larchwood.
Davenport reached on an error in the seventh inning and scored the winning run on a wild pitch in a 4-3 win over Beresford to earn the state trip. Kirkeby gained the pitching win.
The trips to Sioux Falls’ ballpark, home of the Canaries, were fun, as the park is a foul ball away from a crane-led Convention Center going up next door. But the sun rose Friday. Enjoy this summer-fall and see you in May was the message Thursday. Final note we were wearing sweatshirts and sweaters in August.
Winner-Colome, which beat Akron in the quarter-final round, 4-1, downed Dimock-Emery, 6-1 in the semifinal round Aug. 17 at the South Dakota State Amateur Baseball Tournament in Class B in Sioux Falls.
Alexandria, which downed Larchwood, 4-2, beat Parkston in the semifinals 8-0.
The two semifinal winners met in the championship game for Class B Aug. 18.
Alexandria emerged as the state champions with a 4-3 win in the title game over Winner-Colome. Winner-Colome led 2-0 through four innings, 2-1 through seven and 3-1 going into the bottom of the ninth inning. Alexandria scored three runs in its last at-bat to win.
The 2008 Akron Rebels was the last time the Akron baseball team made it to the third game of the South Dakota State Amateur Baseball Tournament, that year held in Mitchell.
The team finished about .500 but made state and beat Sisseton, 12-6; beat Menno, 10-6 and lost to Dimock-Emery, 2-1 for a 2-1 state tournament record.
Rebels’ team members back in 2008 were Jeff Rozell, Adam Loutsch*; Tom Huls; Randall Waterbury*; Doug Loutsch*; Brett Stolpe*; Paul Klemme; Jeff Verzal; Mike Brogden; Matt Bohr; Alex Loutsch; Jordan Heyl*; Dan Rolfes; Chad Brown*; Scott Jacobs*; Mike Schuh; Justin Koch; Clayton Coleman and Paul Martin*.
*Indicates player on the 2013 Rebels team.