Sioux Falls East made up for a slow start with a fantastic finish at Fossum Field Wednesday afternoon.
The defending State A American Legion baseball champions exploded for 16 runs in their final five at-bats to polish off Spearfish 16-4 during the opening round of the tournament.
I knew it was eventually coming, said East starting pitcher Alex Schultz. I knew our bats wouldn't stay asleep for the whole game. It's kind of nice knowing that our offense is always there and even if we don't get a great start, it's going to show up no matter what.
Trailing 1-0 heading to the fourth inning, the East offense woke up, thanks in part to an extra out.
A Spearfish error opened the door to a six-run frame, highlighted by an RBI double from Connor Schaefbauer and a two-run single from Jon Hander. That sequence would provide a theme for innings to come.
Another Spearfish error fueled a two-run fifth on Schaefbauer's two-run triple, an error started off a four-run sixth for Sioux Falls which included an run-scoring triple from Jack Gordon, and another error opened a four-run eighth that was punctuated by a two-run double from Jordan Risse.
The part that we can control, we did a great job of today, Schaefbauer said. They gave us some things as well with errors - walks. A good team will capitalize on that and I think we did a great job of that today.
In all, Spearfish walked seven batters and had five errors which led to 12 unearned runs.
I told the kids before (the game), we have to make plays and if we don't make plays that's exactly what they'll do, said Spearfish coach Matt Kemp. They put a lot of pressure on us and we just didn't make plays. If we did make plays, it's a different ball game.
The catalyst of the Sioux Falls offense was Schaefbauer, who had four hits and knocked in four runs from his leadoff spot.
We really need him. It's no secret that he's one of our best players, but I've said it all year, he's better off the field than he is on the field, said East coach Chris Janisch. You'll see him in the dugout keeping guys in the game. His offensive production was great today and we're happy to have him on our team.
When Schaefbauer came up to bat in the sixth inning, he was one hit short of a cycle following a single, double and triple.
My teammates let me know that, Schaefbauer said with a smile.
He flew out in his fifth at-bat before coming up with another single his last time up.
My fly out, I was trying (for a home run), I'm not going to lie, Schaefbauer admitted, but it's not really my game, so I had to kind of go back my last at-bat, focus up and just base hits again.
Risse finished with five hits, including a pair of doubles and Schultz helped his own cause with three hits and two doubles.
Meanwhile, Schultz was rock solid on the mound, going six innings, allowing three hits and striking out nine.
This was my first start in a month or two, Schultz noted. It just took me a little bit to get back in the rhythm.
Brandon Kemp paced Spearfish with three hits including a double.
Spearfish (36-27) now moves into the loser's bracket and plays at 12:30 this afternoon.