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Rapid City uses free bases to eliminate Millard West

Rapid City starting pitcher Zach Chiolos threw 4 2/3 innings against the Wildcats on Friday, Aug. 10, at Dakota Community Bank & Trust Ballpark. (Shelby Reardon / The Dickinson Press)1 / 3
Rapid City (S.D.) hitter Cooper Bowman makes contact with a pitch against Millard West (Neb.) in Central Plains Regional Tournament action on Friday, Aug. 10, at Dakota Community Bank & Trust Ballpark. (Shelby Reardon / The Dickinson Press)2 / 3
Garrett Kennedy, of Millard West (Neb.), had one of four Wildcats hits against Rapid City Post 22 (S.D.) during the Central Plains Regional Tournament on Friday, Aug. 10, at Dakota Community Bank & Trust Ballpark. (Shelby Reardon / The Dickinson Press)3 / 3

Right around the time the heat hit 100 degrees, Millard West (Neb.) starting pitcher Tyler Bandiera seemed to hit a wall.

He walked the first two batters in the fifth inning, beginning a sequence that allowed Rapid City Post 22 (S.D.) to take back the lead. He walked four and struck out one over four innings. Rapid City took advantage, defeating Millard West 5-4 in a loser-out game on Day 3 of the Central Plains Tournament on Friday, Aug. 10, at Dakota Community Bank & Trust Ballpark.

"Later in the game, you can't be walking people. Sometimes that's a sign that you're tired. Sometimes it's not," Millard West head coach Steven Frey said. "They did a good job of scoring some runs when we gave them free bases."

After the opening walks in the fifth, a sacrifice bunt from Post 22's Matthew Hegre moved the runners to second and third. The Wildcats intentionally walked Cooper Bowman, bringing up Jack Sorenson, who also walked, pushing Connor King to score the 2-1 go-ahead run.

"It felt pretty good. We knew pitchers and defense would show up," King said of coming across home plate. "Obviously, we didn't do what we needed to do defensively with pitching, but we got the win and we can move on to the next day."

A sacrifice fly from Jace Caldwell put Rapid City up 3-1 after five.

Bandiera was relieved by Ryan David with no outs on the board in the fifth, but he walked three batters, so Caleb Reindel took over to finish the inning and the game.

Half an inning earlier, Post 22 starter Zach Chiolos also ran into trouble. He walked three and hit a batter, allowing the Wildcats to tie the game at one, before Tad Scherbenske relieved him.

Jackson Wright was credited with Millard West's first RBI, as his sac fly drove in Tristan Gomes.

Ten Wildcats were walked, but Millard West left 12 men on base. On three occasions, they left the bases loaded.

The Nebraska state runner-up had the biggest chance in the top of the sixth, when No. 2 hitter Paul Hinton was up with the bases loaded and one out. However, he flied out and Max Anderson followed with a strikeout, ending the inning.

"The whole season we had done a good job of putting the bat on the ball in situations where we need a big hit. We were getting it. If we had runners in scoring position, we either got 'em over or got 'em in," Frey said. "When you come (to this tournament), you got to be able to do it every single game and we just didn't do it enough today."

Doubles from King and Bowman, as well as an RBI single from Hegre helped Rapid City plate two runs in the sixth.

King and Bowman both had two hits on the day.

"Connor King hit the ball well," Rapid City head coach Kelvin Torve said. "Chiolos, Scherbenske and Cooper Bowman, our pitchers... That's an excellent hitting ball club. We shot ourselves in the foot by walking too many guys, but we made pitches when we counted. So the pitches, and Connor, we scratched together enough good at-bats to scare across five runs, which is what we needed."

The cushion proved crucial, as Millard West fought back in the seventh.

After he walked the first two batters, Scherbenske was relieved with Bowman. He too walked a pair, allowing three runs to score, two of which were credited to his predecessor.

Just as they had three times before, Post 22 escaped the inning, as a flyout to right field ended the outing, sealing the win.

"We made a pitch when it counted," Torve said. "We pitched poorly to get into that situation, but we made a great pitch to get out of it."

A few weeks earlier, Millard West topped Post 22 for the Gopher Classic Tournament crown, making Rapid City's victory, all the sweeter.

"We played them in the Gopher and lost on a walk-off home run," King said. "It was just a good feeling beating them at this tournament and moving on to the next day."

Rapid City Post 22 (S.D.) 5, Millard West (Neb.) 4

MW 000 010 3 — 4 4 1

RC 100 022 X — 5 6 1

Tyler Bandiera (4), Ryan David (0.2), Caleb Riedel (1.1) and Jackson Meier. Zach Chiolos (4.2), Tad Scherbenske (1.1), Cooper Bowman (1) and Ryan Schmidt.

W—Scherbenske. L—Bandiera. S—Bowman. HR—None.

Highlights: MW, Jackson Wright 1-3, 2B, 1 R, 1 RBI; Tristan Gomes 1-3, 1 R; Garrett Kennedy 1-3, 1 R; Bandiera 4 IP, 3 H, 3 R (3 ER), 4 BB, 1 K. RC, Connor King 2-3, 3 R; Matthew Hegre 1-3, 1 R, 1 RBI; Zach Sumption 1-2; Bowman 2-3, 1 Ip, 1 R, 2 BB; Chiolos 4.2 IP, 1 H, 1 R (1 ER), 6 BB, 3 K.