Local amateur teams prepare for State Tournament

Courtesy photo from Michelle Strasburg: The Volga Cormorants finished third in the District 1B Amateur Baseball Tournament in Clark. They will play in the Class B State Tournament in Mitchell this weekend. Back: Trevor Olson, Chase Ringheimer, Zack Puetz, Austin Buysse, Nick Strasburg, Cole Gross, Parker Puetz Front: Noah Puetz, Colin Vanderwal, Jake Arlt, Layne Lucas, Tyson Sonnenburg, Josh Nelson.

The South Dakota State Amateur Baseball Tournaments begin today. The Class B tournament begins today in Mitchell and the Class A tournament begins tomorrow in Yankton.

Three local teams made it to the State Tournament this year. The Brookings Cubs made it to the Class A tournament. The Flandreau Cardinals and the Volga Cormorants each made the Class B tournament.

The Cubs finished the regular season with a record of 17-2. They qualified for state in impressive fashion as they won both of their games in the North District Tournament by double-digits. Brookings beat Aurora 15-0 and Aberdeen 14-0.

“The big thing I took away from the [District Tournament] was that offensively we kept taking care of business,” said Cubs manager JaColby Anderson. “Guys from top to bottom contributed nicely. We had some quality at-bats. … We have a lot of hitters one through nine that are very capable of opening the flood gates.”

Brookings started the season 1-1 and have been rolling since then. They won their next 15 games before falling to the Sioux Falls Brewers. They have now won their last three games and have shutout all of their opponents. 15 of the Cubs 19 wins came via the 10-run rule.

Anderson said his team knows that the competition will be a lot tougher in the State Tournament, but thinks they’re ready for the pressure.

“As far as the mindset goes, it’s a little bit different with the pressure of being in the State Tournament and facing good teams can create some uncertainty. As far as our team, if we just maintain our approach and stick with our gameplan, I’m very confident we can go in there and continue to score runs and have quality pitching. I think we can make some noise this year and I’m pretty excited,” Anderson said.

The Cubs are hitting .317 as a team and have 20 home runs and 62 extra base hits. They are led by power hitter Sam McMacken who is hitting .549 and has five home runs and 17 doubles. On the flip side, Brookings has a team ERA of 2.67.

The Cubs will face the Brandon Rats in their first game at 5 p.m. on Saturday. Anderson said he likes the draw that the team got because they beat Brandon 6-1 during the regular season.

“We played the Rats before and beat them, so I feel good about our draw because we have a scouting report. In all reality we just have to take care of it one game at a time and continue to do what we do best. Offensively I feel like we give ourselves a chance” Anderson said.

Flandreau had a lot more difficult of a time making the tournament than the Cubs. They started off the season 2-6, but worked their way to a seventh consecutive State Tournament berth. They have won eight games in-a-row and won the District 4B Tournament to clinch a tournament berth. Flandreau manager Bret Severtson said he is feeling good about his team heading into the State Tournament.

“We strung together a few good games in the District Tournament and I like where we’re at lineup wise,” Severtson said.

Severtson said his team doesn’t have a specific strength and that they have been good on both offense and defense.

“Pitching depth and our lineup one through nine are big things. We haven’t had this much pitching depth in a while and we’re going to need it in the tournament,” Severtson said.

The Cardinals were the runner-ups of the State Tournament two years ago and lost in the second round of the tournament last year. Both losses came to Canova. This year, Flandreau will have a buy in the first round and will face the winner of Winner and Colome on Friday at 1 p.m. Severtson said he thinks his team has a very tough draw.

“We need to string together five-straight championship performances [if they want to win the title]. I don’t know if there has ever been a worse draw for a team,” Severtson said. “If the favorites win out we’ll have Winner, a top-five to seven team in the first round. We’ll have last year’s runner-up. Garretson in the second round and then one of the probably two favorites in the tournament in Renner in the third round followed by the dynasty that is Alexandria in the semifinals. Then if we make it to the championship it will definitely be a good team out of the other side of the bracket.” 

Volga made the tournament after missing it in two of the past three seasons. They made it after coming in third place in the District 1B Tournament. The Cormorants won the third place game 5-4 on a Josh Nelson walk-off double in the bottom of the 10th inning. The ‘Rants will face Platte at 5:30 p.m. on Saturday. 

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