MITCHELL — For Sioux Falls Brewers manager Matt Leedom, what happened prior to Sunday’s championship game matchup with Yankton had not mattered.
Not the Brewers’ loss to Yankton on Friday.
Not the Brewers’ win over Yankton on Aug. 3 to qualify for state.
Not the Brewers’ four previous state championship game losses.
In the end, the Brewers got what mattered, a 10-7 victory over the Tappers at Mitchell’s Cadwell Park for the Class A amateur baseball championship.
T.J. Miller went 3-5 with two RBI for Sioux Falls. Jose Martinez had two hits and three RBI. Ian Strum posted two hits and three runs scored. James Borges doubled. Tom Hill added a hit. Drue Soukup drove in two runs in the victory.
Gabe Leon and Ross Heine each had three hits for Yankton, which outhit the Brewers 12-9. Nik Davis went 2-5 with a home run and three RBI. Mason Townsend had two hits and two RBI. Derrik Nelson and Alex Mueller each had a hit in the effort.
Billy Mount, a pickup player from Vermillion, took the loss in relief. Jeremiah Mauch, who took the loss in Friday’s contest against Yankton, earned the victory in relief.
Rare control issues for Yankton’s Luke Bauske — three walks and four wild pitches in three innings — helped the Brewers build an early 5-0 lead. Martinez drove in a run in both the two-run first inning and three-run second inning for the Brewers.
Yankton bounced back, notching five hits in the third inning to score three runs. Townsend, Heine and Davis each had run-scoring singles in the frame.
“We knew 5-0 was about the max,” said Davis, Yankton’s player-manager. “We had to get something going.”
Sioux Falls answered Yankton’s rally with two more runs to stretch the margin back to four, 7-3. But Mount settled in, shutting the Brewers down in consecutive innings.
Yankton took advantage of that lull in the Sioux Falls offense. Davis ripped a two-run home run over the left-center field fence in the fifth, and Yankton added two more in the sixth to tie the game.
“It was a fastball, inner half, and I was ready for it,” Davis said of the home run. “I wasn’t sure if I got enough of it. That guy (Ahrendt) is a legend, so hitting one off him is pretty neat.
“Too bad it was not enough.”
Ahrendt, who picked up two pitching victories in the tournament — including Saturday to end Renner’s run of 16 consecutive championship game appearances — was named the tournament MVP. Against Yankton on Sunday, he allowed six runs, striking out five batters in 5 1/3 innings of work before giving way to Mauch.
With the game tied 7-7 after six innings, Sioux Falls broke through without a hit. The Brewers used back-to-back walks, a sacrifice and a groundout to plate the go-ahead run. They added two runs in the ninth with the help of three walks and a hit batter.
“We gave them a few too many chances with walks and errors,” Davis said. “It’s tough to beat a team twice in three days, and they’re a good team.”
In the final three innings, Mauch held Yankton to one hit and an intentional walk.
“Friday he didn’t pitch badly,” Leedom said of the game’s winning pitcher. “We had to put him in and trust he’d do what ‘Miah does.
“He’s got a great career ahead of him.”
The Brewers became the first Sioux Falls team to win the Class A title since 1995, though the Brewers have their roots in the old Brandon Valley team that won in 2010 and 2012.
“What made it special for me was watching all these guys celebrate together,” said Needom, who joined the team in 2016. “They’ve played together, stayed dedicated to the team, no matter the outcome.”
Besides playing for a state championship for the first time since 2003, Yankton also had its first tournament batting champ in over 40 years. Mitch Gullikson tied Renner’s Eric DeJong by going 6-for-12 on the weekend.
“I found some holes,” said Gullikson, who joined Romaine Loecker (1969, 1970, 1976) and Dan List (1970) as Yankton players who won state tournament batting titles. “I got a lot of at-bats, took advantage of some situations.”
Yankton finished with a 20-3 record, including two losses to the Brewers.
“We’re starting to put things together,” Mitch Gullikson said. “We’ve been together for a few years, and we feel like we can roll into next year and keep it going.”
Davis is also optimistic about the future, in part because of some of the players who helped the Tappers get to state, pickup players from the Yankton American Legion team.
“We have a bunch of good young guys that are coming up,” he said. “Hopefully they will stay in town, and we will just reload for next year.”
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