MITCHELL — When Plankinton’s Alex Loes saw a potential second-round matchup with Crofton in the South Dakota State Class B Amateur Baseball Tournament, he got a little excited.
Not because he expected an easy game, but because the former Irene Cardinal knew the team well.
Loes took advantage of the familiarity, going 4-6 with a triple, two doubles, two RBI and two runs scored as the Bankers bounced the Bluejays from the tournament with a 10-7 decision on Sunday at Mitchell’s Cadwell Park.
“I got excited when I saw them in our bracket. I wanted a chance to play them again,” Loes said. “I knew all their guys, minus two or three. I knew what their pitchers threw.
“One through nine, we took advantage of it.
Orric Earl doubled and singled, and Trevor Salmonson had two hits for Plankinton. Chris Hill doubled, scoring twice. Geno Katz had a hit, two RBI and two runs scored. Tyler Waddle also had a hit in the victory.
Nick Hegge went 3-4 with two RBI for Crofton. Simon Healy, a pickup player from Irene, hit a two-run home run. Corey Roach and Tyler Zimmerman each tripled, with Roach scoring twice in the game. Austin Hegge added a hit.
Travis Gant pitched 7 1/3 innings for the win. Josh Engquist, who picked up the victory in Plankinton’s first-round game, got the final five outs for the save. Ben Hegge took the loss, striking out five in his 4 1/3 innings of work.
Wildness — both pitching and defensively — helped Plankinton build a lead. The Bankers took advantage of a walk, two wild pitches and two errors to score two runs in the first. An error in the second helped move a runner up on the way to score in the second. The Bankers scored on a RBI groundout in the fourth, then scored three more on three errors to build a 7-1 lead.
“Hegge was hitting his spots in the beginning,” Loes said. “We were just fortunate to drive the ball to right when he was on the corner.”
Loes had gone 3-4 with a double to lead off the game and a two-run triple in the fifth inning rally, helping spark the Bankers’ surge.
“When I got the triple, our third base coach let me know I was a home run shy of the cycle,” Loes said. “Playing here, that part (the home run) is not easy. I was just trying to put good wood on the baseball.”
Crofton, which scored in the first on a Roach triple and a groundout, got things going in the fifth. After an error, Healy launched the ball over the head of Loes — his former Irene teammate — and the left field wall for a two-run shot. After another error, a walk and a passed ball, Nick Hegge laced a two-run single up the middle to pull the Bluejays within two, 7-5.
Crofton reliever Ted Bengston had kept Plankinton in check, retiring 10 straight before Salmonsen coaxed a two-out walk, and Earl followed with a double to right center to score Salmonson. The Bankers added a run on a bases-loaded walk from reliever Austin Hegge, but Crofton avoided further damage thanks to a sliding catch by left fielder Tyler Zimmerman.
A RBI double by Earl and a bases-loaded walk helped the Bankers push back to a four-run edge in the top of the eighth, but Crofton got those two back in the bottom. Zimmerman had a RBI triple, followed by a Jared Wiebelhaus run-scoring grounder. But Wiebelhaus was thrown out trying to score on an Austin Hegge single, stalling the threat.
The throw that cut the run down at the plate came from Loes.
“As soon as I let it go I felt good,” he said. “My catcher (Trevor Boyd) made a great catch and a great tag.”
Plankinton added an insurance run in the ninth, taking advantage of Crofton’s eighth error of the game. A line drive to James Kaiser at second base resulted in an unassisted double play, but the throw to potentially turn a triple play went wide, allowing the runner to advance to second. Salmonson followed with a run-scoring single.
“We made eight errors, and we were still in it until the final out,” said Ben Hegge, Crofton’s player-manager. “That says a lot about this team.”
Plankinton advances to face Winner-Colome in Thursday’s first quarterfinal, a 5:30 p.m. start at Cadwell Park.
“We need to keep doing what we’ve been doing,” Loes said. “The teams that make runs in this tournament are the teams that capitalize on mistakes. We’ve been able to do that the past two games.”
The loss ends a roller coaster season for Crofton, one that included a new manager as well as the loss of longtime player Kyle Mueller to an accident before the season.
“We fought to the end,” Ben Hegge said. “We’re not going to make excuses.”
Follow @JCimburek on Twitter.