NORTH SIOUX CITY — Dakota Valley batted around in two of four innings on the way to a 10-0 victory over Lennox in the championship of the Region 3B American Legion Baseball Tournament on Friday in North Sioux City.
Dakota Valley earned a trip to the South Dakota State Class B Tournament, which begins July 27 in Redfield. The Panthers (12-4) enter the tournament on a six-game win streak, including a 3-0 run through the regional.
Brenden Klasi went 3-3, and Tanner Bykerk went 2-2 with a home run, a double and four RBI to lead Dakota Valley.
Luke Johnson and Austin Carter each had two hits. Kade Bohan homered, Jack Graves had a hit and two RBI, and Tanner Hensley and Walter Werden each had a hit in the win.
Zach Foss, Mason Miller, Tyson Stoebner, Brock Anderson and Dylan Hanisch each had a hit for Lennox.
Kyle Windeshausen tossed a complete game shutout in the five-inning contest, striking out six. Stoebner, who did not get out of the first, took the loss.
Dakota Valley gave up two hits in the top of the first, but Windeshausen picked Foss off of second to end the inning.
“Kyle started off a little shaky, but once he found his groove, he started throwing first-pitch strikes,” said Dakota Valley head coach Rob Augustine. “We got out of the first inning, then started hitting the ball.”
The first five batters for Dakota Valley reached, including a two-run single by Graves. After an out on the basepaths and a groundout, Bohan homered and Bykerk doubled, each bringing in a run, to give the Panthers a 6-0 edge after one inning.
The home run was the first for Bohan in his career.
“Only in batting practice,” he said of hitting the home run. “The first pitch was a strike, a fastball. After that, I anticipated a fastball and went from there.
“I knew it was gone as soon as it came off my bat. I could feel it.”
Windeshausen settled into a grouve, retiring the side in order in the second and third innings. In the bottom of the third, the Panthers batted around again, with three of the four runs coming on Bykerk’s three-run blast.
“You have to keep them off the basepaths,” said Lennox head coach Johnny Kirchner. “They are fast, and they’re going to take the extra base any time they get the chance.”
Lennox got a runner to third in the fourth, and loaded the bases in the fifth, but could not capitalize on either. Despite the setback, Kirchner was happy about his team’s determination to bounce back from an opening round setback.
“We have a young team — 17 guys and we’re only going to lose three. They’re not afraid to battle,” Kirchner said. Lennox had beaten Beresford 11-7 just prior to the final, earning their berth. “Maybe we ran a little short on arms today. That was the difference.”
The region title comes just two months after Dakota Valley’s high school squad — with many of the same players — was eliminated in the region semifinals despite being the top seed. A year ago, the Vermillion team that went on to win the state title eliminated the Panthers a game shy of state.
“It feels good. This is long overdue,” Bohan said. “The work has paid off for us to finally go to state.”
State tournament pairings will be announced when all eight teams are determined.
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