BROOKINGS – For the first time since 2006, Brookings will be hosting the first weekend of the Class A State Amateur Baseball Tournament.
The Cubs (14-10), who won five of their final six games of the regular season, will face the Sioux Falls Flying Squirrels in the first round Friday night.
“It’s always great to end on a high note,” said Cubs manager Mike Greybill. “I think those last six games, what we saw there, was what expected to see all year, but they didn’t always show up. It was good to see the guys show up in their typical form.”
The Flying Squirrels were the only team to beat the Cubs in those final six games. The two teams split during the season. Greybill said it’s going to be a tough tournament because a lot of the teams are equal.
“[Flying Squirrels] are a pretty evenly matched opponent with us. There’s quite a log jam at the top … The fact that we split with them is kind of incidental. We have to come hard at them on Friday and play our game. They have a couple of tough pitchers and I’m sure we’re going to see one of them,” Greybill said.
The favorite heading into the tournament is Renner, who won the tournament last season. Greybill thinks there are some other teams that could surprise some people though.
“The [Sioux Falls] Brewers are also a very good team and it would not surprise me if there was a upset there. You know, there’s also teams like Brookings, Castlewood, Aberdeen and the Squirells who are all kind of neck and neck,” he said.
Greybill said Brookings, who came in third in the state tournament last season, needs to relax if they want to be successful in the tournament.
“I think we need trust our abilities and not press. We need to rise up and be focused, but also relaxed,” Greybill said.
The Cubs returned most their players from last year’s third place team and Greybill thinks that will be beneficial.
“For most of these guys, this isn’t their first rodeo. So they’re well experienced with postseason play. Last year, we had some great battles with great teams and our guys proved that we’re not going to just roll over and die, which is a great attribute to have as a team,” Greybill said.
The process for getting the first weekend of the state tournament to come to Brookings is a lot simpler than one might think.
Aaron Jorneby said all he had to do was email the South Dakota Amateur Baseball Association (SDABA) and tell them you want to host the tournament. The SDDBA then puts you on a list and once they have all the cities that want to be on the list, they choose one.
Jorenby said the tournament is a great thing for the city because they get to keep all of the money from entrance fees and concessions and the only thing they have to pay for is umps. The SDABA provides all of the baseballs and other stuff like that.
Greybill thinks playing in front of a home crowd will play a part in the Cubs being victorious.
“I think the first thing you get with having a ‘home field advantage’, is you have more fans there than the other team,” he said. “The old cliché goes that the fans turn into the 10th player … We also don’t have to travel. When you aren’t on the road it’s a lot easier for your players to be present. If they have to commit to a weekend in Mitchell, for example, some guys might not be able to make it.”
Greybill added that the disadvantage of the Cubs hosting the first weekend is that they were not able to qualify for any pick up players.
“Other teams who aren’t hosting were able to pick up a couple players from other teams who were eliminated in the district tournaments. Since we are the host, we did not have to play in a district tournament and so we did not get the opportunity to pick up any players,” Greybill said.
The tournament begins Friday night with Castlewood and Yankton playing at 5:30., at Bob Shelden Field. The Cubs and Flying Squirrels are scheduled to play at 8 p.m., but they start time could change depending on when the first game ends.
SDABA Hall of Famer and former Cubs player, Billy McMacken will be throwing out the first pitch.