2001 STATE TOURNAMENT
Rapid City Post 22 brought an intimidating record of 55-12 into the 2001 state tournament at Hyde Stadium, and the host Post 8 team was simply glad to be there after missing the state classic for the first time in more than a decade the previous season.
Post 22 had won games in its regional by scores of 12-0, 11-0, and (oops!) 16-2. Pierre's record was 29-36, its best in four years, and it could have been better had Post 8 been able to win the close ones. Pierre was 1-9 in one-run games that summer.
Only two teams were back in the state tournament from the previous year---Post 22 and Brookings.
With afternoon temperatures above 100 degrees, the tournament opened with four close games. Billy Dwyer's two-run homer lifted Post 320 over Milbank, 4-3, the first state tourney win in history for the newer of the Rapid City teams.
A three-run rally in the ninth left Valley Springs one run shy of Brookings, 5-4. The stunner of the day was Sioux Falls East's stopping Post 22, 6-1. Luke Hepner and Travis Reisch teamed up to stop Post 22 cold despite the weather.
The home team had a great start, leading Aberdeen 3-0 while Dalton Decker was mowing down Smitty batters. But in the fifth, a cold front blew through the park, and the weather changed dramatically. Decker had walked the bases full but had two outs when an outfield fly ball was lost in the swirling gale. The error let three runs score, and Aberdeen roared on from there to win, 8-6.
A Pierre win would have meant the home club would not have had to play Post 22 on Thursday, but the loss meant they did indeed have to face a team they hadn't beaten in six years just to stay alive. It wasn't to be, of course, and Post 22 stayed alive with a 13-3 win. Milbank also went home, losers by 10-6 to Valley Springs.
Brian Berendse's ninth-inning hit lifted Post 320 over Brookings, 5-4. Isaac Schmeling, who had homered the previous day, had a 3-run double to lead East past Aberdeen, 11-2.
Coach Dave Ploof's Post 22 team had never in his 29 years of coaching had to come back to win out after losing an opening-day game. They continued toward making it happen for a first time with a 7-3 win that eliminated Brookings. Aberdeen ousted Valley Springs, 9-7. A bases-loaded walk gave Post 320 a 10-9 win over East, the third straight one-run win for LeRoy Weimer's Rapid crew.
Saturday's "final four" games were not quite so dramatic. Post 22 took only eight innings to eliminate East, 12-2. A committee of three Post 320 pitchers held Aberdeen to four hits in a 10-4 victory. So there were two teams left, and both claimed Rapid City as home.
Post 22 would have to beat Post 320 twice on Sunday to win another championship.
Post 22 pounded out 13 hits in an 11-0 win in seven innings in the afternoon as Matt Robinson threw a three-hit shutout so another title game was in the works.
Post 22 jumped ahead 6-0. Though Post 320 rallied to within 6-3, reliever Andrew Hofer kept them scoreless from the fifth inning on, and a seven-run sixth for Post 22 made it 13-3. The game ended after the top of the seventh.
Post 320 had had a great tournament, but not yet had they reached the level of their rivals from across the street back home.
Post 22's Greg Geary, after going 0-for-3 in the first-round loss to East, was named Player of the Year. He scored 10 runs, batted in seven and hit for a .500 average in Post 22's five straight wins.