Tea 16U claim VFW State A Championship Title
By Anne Homan,
The Tea Titans 16U Baseball team capped off an incredible season by being crowned the South Dakota VFW 16U State A Champions this past weekend at Dakota Valley, in North Sioux City.
The State Tournament opened up for the Titans on Friday afternoon, Aug. 5, squaring off against Madison Gold in the opening round. Tea lead 7-1 after three innings and were able to hold off a late rally by Madison to take the eventual 8-7 victory.
Sam Werdel went five innings on the mound for the Titans, earning the victory, giving up only four hits, while recording eight strike-outs. Teagan Dedula came in to seal the deal for Tea Area in the seventh, striking out two of the three batters he faced.
Offensively, the Titans were lead by Nate Christensen, who recorded three RBI’s in the game.
With the win, Tea Area advanced to face off against West Center in semi-final action on Saturday, Aug. 6. After being held to one run through the first three innings, Tea erupted for five runs in the fourth inning allowing them to cruise to a 10-1 victory.
Boston Willemssen pitched 6-1/3 innings, allowing only two hits, and striking out five batters.
At the plate, Ethan Vis and Werdel each contributed two hits to lead the team. Werdel and Willemssen each added two RBI’s in the win.
The semi-final victory gave the Titans a spot in the Championship game held Sunday afternoon, Aug. 7. Tea faced off against Wagner who built a 3-0 lead with help of a first inning home run and a couple of Titan miscues in the field.
However, in the fifth inning the Titans’ offense found new life. With one out, Carter Turek reached on an error by the left fielder, then Christian Seversen was hit by a pitch, and Mason Schramm laid down a perfect bunt down the third baseline, which left Wagner with no play, and allowed Gavin Johnson to cross the plate to finally get the Titans on the board. Vis then doubled and three pitches later both Schramm and Seversen crossed home plate. On the very next pitch, Werdel knocked in the go ahead run, giving the Titans a 4-3 lead after five innings of play.
In the sixth, the Titans extended the lead with an RBI single by Jacob Bender that scored Dedula and put Tea up 5-3.
Wagner, however, was not ready to be done.They managed to answer with a run of their own in the bottom of the sixth to close the gap to 5-4. But once again, strong pitching by Christensen and Dedula slammed the door on a Wagner come back.
Christensen went five innings, striking out six. With just three outs away from a State Title, Dedula took to the mound and handled buiness. After striking out the leadoff man, the next two batters reached base, putting men on first and second with only one out. But Dedula made the next batter pop up near the Tea dugout, where third baseman Christensen made a nice running catch for out number two.
With one out left to get, the next batter for Wagner drove the ball down the right field line where right fielder, Werdel, raced into foul territory, and made a sliding grab to seal the deal and give the Titans the 2022 SDVFW State A 16U Championship Title.
Titans end their season with a 31-7 record,
Four tournament championships and one runner-up finish