MITCHELL — As the impact of Yankton’s 5-4 victory over Brandon Valley in the South Dakota State Class A American Legion Baseball Tournament hit Yankton head coach Drew Lawrence, he marveled at the game he had just witnessed.
“That’s probably the best game I’ve been a part of,” Lawrence said after Saturday’s victory at Mitchell’s Cadwell Park. “The intensity. The ups and downs. It all came into one game.
“It was an unbelievable game.”
Michael Drotzmann went 2-3 with three RBI to lead Yankton (26-21), which will play Renner in the 7 p.m. battle of unbeaten today (Sunday). Rex Ryken tripled and had two runs scored. Caid Koletzky, Ethan Wishon and Levi Wiersma each had a hit in the win.
Cole Siegfried had two hits and two RBI for Brandon Valley. Joe Kolbeck and Jaxon Haase each doubled. Thomas Scholten had a hit and two runs scored. Will Brown and Connor Knecht each had a hit in the effort.
Miles Carda faced four batters but got five outs in relief for the win. Wishon started, allowing two earned runs over 5 1/3 innings. Hunter Marso took the loss in relief of Cole Hupke, who allowed two earned runs over 5 2/3 innings.
“He kept it around the zone,” said Drotzmann, Yankton’s catcher, about Wishon’s start. “Some calls didn’t go his way, but he got through that and got back in the zone.”
Yankton wasted little time in taking the lead. After a leadoff walk to Carda and a Koletzky single, Matthew Mors bunted them over and Drotzmann grounded out to plate the game’s first run.
Yankton got out of a second-inning jam with the help of its defense. Haase led off with a double and couldn’t advance on a grounder to third, then was cut down by Koletzky trying to advance on a grounder to short. Siegfried singled with two outs, but a fly ball to right ended the inning.
Ryken got the ball rolling for Yankton in the third, leading off with a triple to right. He came in to score on Carda’s fly ball to right.
But Brandon Valley answered that run. Brown got a one-out single, moved up on a grounder and a wild pitch, then scored on Kolbeck’s double that just got past the infield down the third base line.
Brandon Valley tied the game an inning later on Siegfried’s sacrifice fly.
Yankton regained the lead in the sixth. Mors led off with a walk, advanced on a passed ball and a Drotzmann sacrifice bunt, then scored on Wishon’s single.
But Brandon Valley came back with two in the bottom of the sixth. An error and a walk set up RBI singles by Knecht and Siegfried, sending Yankton to the bullpen for Carda. Carda got the first batter he faced to ground into an inning-ending double play, leaving the margin at 4-3.
A walk to Ryken, a sacrifice bunt by Carda and an error left runners on second and third with one out. After an intentional walk to Mors, Drotzmann singled through the infield to plate the tying and go-ahead runs.
“We don’t know who is going to come up with the big hit for us,” Lawrence said. “For the last two games we’ve been having good at-bats.”
In the go-ahead at-bat, Drotzmann was quickly down two strikes. After a ball, Drotzmann fouled off two pitches before the game-winning hit.
“It wasn’t the pitch I wanted,” Drotzmann said. “He just threw it in the right spot. I got something to drive.”
Carda set Brandon Valley down in the seventh to secure the win.
“I didn’t look at the scoreboard,” Carda said of the seventh. “I knew if we got three outs, the game was over.”
Besides having key hits, Yankton had sacrifice bunts executed by three of the top four batters in its order.
“All our guys know that it doesn’t matter what position you are in the order, you have to bunt sometimes,” Lawrence said. “All they care about now is winning. Everyone wants to win and advance.”
Yankton will play in the battle of unbeaten, facing Renner, today at 7 p.m. Brandon Valley takes on Pierre in an elimination game today at 1 p.m.
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