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Summer baseball update for Legion and amateur baseball teams

The good news for Watertown Post 17’s American Legion Baseball team is that its recent 4-10 streak doesn’t matter much, with the most important games of the season set to be played this month.

The same goes for other American Legion and amateur baseball teams, which are set to wrap up their regular seasons next week and then begin postseason play.

Area teams will attempt to qualify for the state Class A American Legion tournament in Brookings from July 30-Aug. 3, the state Class B American Legion tournament in Salem from Aug. 2-6 and the state amateur baseball tournament in Mitchell from Aug. 6-18.

A bump in the road for Post 17

Talented Watertown Post 17 opened the season by winning 28 of its first 34 games but has gone just 4-10 in recent seasons, including some tough competition in tournaments in Alexandria (Minn.), Omaha (Neb.) and Fargo (ND).

The series included two losses to Renner Post 307, which is currently in second place in the Class A Power Points standings. Post 17 is currently in fifth place and must host a best-of-three playoff series July 25-26 to qualify for state.

“It’s a busy time of year and we’ve had a lot of good competition,” Post 17 head coach Ryan Neale said. “It’s been a tough time, but at the end of the day, we hope it’s one that will set us up for success this season and in the future.”

The challenging season also included facing some pitchers who are currently playing in college or will be starting next year.

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Hitting has been an issue behind a solid pitching staff led by South Dakota State University’s Kaden Rylance, Talan Jurgens and Nash Berg, and a strong defense.

“We’re more of a one-hitting team and when you’re facing top-tier pitching, you’ve got to put it all together. Guys might have started to press a little bit,” Neale said.

Post No. 17 (38-18) got back on track by sweeping Class B teams Groton, Salem-Montrose-Canova and Milbank (Monday night at Watertown Stadium. A doubleheader scheduled for Tuesday against Marshall (Minn.) has been postponed until tonight (Thursday) at 5 p.m.)

Watertown will also host Dell Rapids for a single game on Sunday at 1 p.m., Brookings on Wednesday (July 17) at 5 p.m., Spearfish on Thursday (July 18) and Sturgis on Friday, July 19 at 1 p.m.

It may be possible for Post 17 to enter the playoffs on a 13-game winning streak, but that doesn’t mean the tough stretch won’t be beneficial.

“I think when we look back at the end of July we’ll see that we needed to taste a bit of failure to show how hard we had to work,” Neale said. “We expect a lot from this group, not just in 2024. We want to take steps forward and the best way to do that is to challenge ourselves internally and externally sometimes.”

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Aberdeen Smittys also on track to host Class A playoff series

The Smittys blew a 5-2 lead in Tuesday night’s doubleheader against Huron, falling 6-5, but the team is still 26-12 and on track to host a three-game playoff series to qualify for the state championship later this month.

As of Tuesday night, Aberdeen was in seventh place in the Class A seeding.

Last summer, the Smittys qualified for the state championship by defeating Post 17 in a playoff series in Watertown.

Region B Class Legion Teams

Each of the Class B American Legion teams in the region will play in region tournaments the week of July 22-27.

The majority of regional teams will compete in the Region 1B tournament, but others will compete in other regions.

Region 1B includes all regional teams and is scheduled for July 23-25 ​​at Castlewood. First-round games on Tuesday (July 23) include Milbank (5-13) vs. Sisseton (4-12) at noon, Webster vs. Castlewood (5-10) at 2:30 p.m. and the Milbank-Sisseton winner vs. Big Stone City (8-5) at 5 p.m. The Milbank-Sisseton loser will face the Webster-Castlewood loser in an elimination match at 7:30 p.m.

Matches will be played on Wednesday at 14:30, 17:00 and 19:30, with the championship at 17:00. If necessary, a second championship will be held.

Clark-Willow Lake (5-5), Groton (11-9), WIN (Warner-Ipswich-Northwestern, 8-3), Claremont (9-10), Morridge and Faulkton will host the Region 6B tournament, which will feature the Hitmen (9-4).

Lake Norden-Badger and Redfield (3-10) will play in the Region 5B tournament. Volga (6-4) will play in the Region 2B tournament.

What is the playoff status of amateur baseball teams in the area?

The regular season also ends for area amateur baseball teams that will have a chance to qualify for the state B amateur baseball tournament in Mitchell.

Milbank will host the Region 1B tournament from July 27 to Aug. 1 or 2. Four of the seven teams will advance to state. The field includes the Lake Norden Lakers, Milbank Firechiefs (10-2), Castlewood Ravens (9-5), Ramona Express (0-10), Volga Cormorants, Elkton Snappers (5-9) and Clark Traders (6-3).

The Northern Plains League tournament is scheduled for July 28-Aug. 1 in Redfield and features Redfield Dairy Queen (`12-0), Groton Locke Electric (3-3), Northville Merchants (1-5) and Faulkton Hitmen (0-4). Two teams will advance to state.

Follow Watertown Public Opinion Sports reporter Roger Merriam on X (formerly Twitter) at @PO_Sports or email: [email protected]