Title dreams dashed at state

Al Kirkeby/For the Journal
Nine seniors played vital roles for Post 131 this season. The senior corps includes (from left) Wilson Kolbeck, Ryan Meyer, Taylor Crow, Zach Felderman, Isaac Buteyn, Payton Livingston,  Tyler Zimmerman, Mitch Hoover and Isaiah Chevalier. Wilma Kirkeby/For the Journal
Post 131 leftfielder Zach Felderman gets the fly out during play of the State American Legion tournament in Rapid City. Wilma Kirkeby/For the Journal
Tyler Zimmerman came in relief for Post 131 in the Aberdeen game to help preserve a win. Wilma Kirkeby/For the Journal
Brandon Valley Post 131 reached the American Legion State tournament for a second straight year, this season breezing through regional tournament play with three consecutive wins and capturing the Region 2A championship for the first time in several years. 
A state championship eluded them at Fitzgerald Stadium in Rapid City however, as the team opened up with a win over Aberdeen before falling to both Pierre and then Mitchell to end their season with a 24-21 record. The two teams that beat Post 131 went on to advance to Sunday’s state title game, which was a repeat of the 2016 state tournament when Rapid City Post 22 and Renner were the two teams to beat Brandon Valley and then advance to the title game.
“In all actuality, it was a great season for these guys,” said Post 131 head coach Jeremy VanHeel. “The fact is these guys came together at the end and figured out who they were. We won our region and probably weren’t picked to do that.”
In his first season at the helm, VanHeel led the squad first to a runner-up state tournament finish during the high school season, followed by a Legion regional championship and state tournament berth. 
The 2017 Post 131 team was led by nine graduated seniors this year (Isaiah Chevalier, Wilson Kolbeck, Isaac Buteyn, Ryan Meyer, Zach Felderman, Mitchell Hoover, Tyler Zimmerman, Payton Livingston, and Taylor Crow) and one “super senior”, 2016 high school graduate, Kyle Bailey. Seven of those 10 will be playing college baseball this coming season including Bailey, who played this past spring at Dakota Wesleyan. Taking their careers to the next level are Chevalier at Northern State, Kolbeck to Gallaudet University, Buteyn to Dordt College, Meyer and Livingston both to the University of Sioux Falls, and Hoover to Iowa Lakes Community College.
Both Livingston and Meyer were selected to play in Monday’s American Legion All-Star game at Clark.
VanHeel coins the senior departure as “great for this program.”
“Of our nine seniors that we had for Legion baseball, six of those seniors are going to play college baseball. It’s tough for our program but good for our program. It shows these younger guys that it takes some hard work to get there and it’s something we, as a program, can do, and start to expect making the post-season and the state tournament,” VanHeel said.
Livingston led the offense during the state tournament with a .454 batting average, 3 singles, 2 doubles, and a home run. He reached base safely two other times with a base on balls and getting hit by a pitch, and hit a sacrifice fly.
BV 9, Aberdeen 5
Post 131 defeated Aberdeen in the opening game of the 2017 American Legion State A tournament played at Fitzgerald Stadium in Rapid City on Wednesday morning, July 26. Aberdeen jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the top of the first inning but it would be the last lead they would have as Brandon Valley had eight players combine for 14 hits to plate nine runs. 
Livingston had two of those hits including a towering first-inning home run over the right field wall to tie the game at two after Meyer led off the home half of the inning with a base hit and scored on a single by Chevalier. The Lynx offense kept up a steady pace with hits and runs coming from top to bottom in their batting order. 
Hoover was the winning pitcher, going 5 1/3 innings and allowing three runs on five hits with four strike outs. Zimmerman pitched 2 1/3 solid innings in relief before giving way to Dylan Kirkeby, who recorded the save, pitching the final 1 1/3 innings.  
“The first one was exciting, emotional, you could tell that the players were ready to be there,” VanHeel said. “We had Mitch Hoover on the bump, who’s been a big game pitcher all year, so to hold Aberdeen to five hits was huge.”
Pierre 9, BV 3
The Lynx were unable to match Pierre at the plate on the second day of tournament play, as Post 8 out-hit Brandon Valley, 11-8, resulting in the 9-3 defeat.
Pierre scored twice in the first inning but Post 131 fought back to tie the game in the second. Base hits by Weston Struble, Felderman, and Buteyn, along with an RBI ground out by Trey Hubers plated two runs. Pierre’s bats continued to sizzle as they took the lead for good with a four-run, third inning.
Chevalier and Livingston had multi-hit games. Chevalier generated three singles and Livingston delivered a single and a double in the game that had a nearly two-hour rain delay between the sixth and seventh innings. Pierre played errorless defense while BV had an uncharacteristic three miscues in the game.
“After the rain delay we were kind of flat, we didn’t have the drive we needed for a comeback,” the coach said.
Livingston started the game on the mound with Ryan Meyer coming on in relief in the third and finishing the game. 
“We hit the ball well, but our pitcher, Payton Livingston, didn’t have his best stuff, and then Ryan Meyer came in and bull-dogged it for us to keep us in the game,” Van Heel said.
With the loss Post 131 moved Friday afternoon’s elimination against Mitchell. Pierre advanced to play Rapid City Post 22 in a matchup of the last two unbeaten teams in the tournament.
Mitchell 8, BV 5
Despite a four-run first inning by Post 131, Mitchell came back to win on the strength of two home runs, the biggest blow, a three-run bomb in the bottom of the fifth inning. BV actually out hit Mitchell 9-5 but Post 18 did a better job of grouping their hits together while the Lynx stranded nine runners, six in scoring position. Mitchell was also aided by exceptional defense, turning two potential extra-base hits into double plays.
Meyer, Kolbeck, and Jacob Johnson each contributed a pair of base hits in the game and Livingston nearly hit his second home run of the tournament with a shot off the center field wall for a ninth-inning double, a ball that would have gone out anyplace else in the park.
Buteyn and Felderman handled the pitching duties, combining to strike out 10 Mitchell batters while not a single Lynx player struck out in the game. Buteyn started on the bump, going 4 2/3 innings and scattering five hits with five strike outs while Felderman threw the final 3 1/3 innings without giving up a single hit and striking out five.
“Mitchell’s a good ball team and we played them pretty well this season … and there were a couple of pitches that we wish we could’ve taken back,” VanHeel said. “Offensively, we hit the ball hard and we continued to compete, and I’m proud of our guys.”


The Brandon Valley Journal


The Brandon Valley Journal
1404 E. Cedar St.
Brandon, SD 57005
(605) 582-9999

Email Us

Facebook Twitter

Please Login for Premium Content