Erik Petry had himself a day.
The Rapid City Post 22 cleanup batter hit 4-for-4 with five RBIs, the final of which drove in the last run to clinch his team’s 12-2, seven-inning victory over Renner Post 307 in the Class A legion state championship game.
“I was trying to do whatever I could for my team to win this game,” Petry said. “That’s all I really cared about.”
It’s the Hardhats’ fourth consecutive state title and 41st overall.
“You can’t take anybody lightly, especially here at this tournament,” said Post 22 head coach Mitch Messer. “This 307 team is a good team. They got hot, and we knew we were gonna have to play good baseball. We did today.”
It was a valiant effort by Renner, which was making its first appearance in a legion state championship game in just its fifth year of existence. The Royals just ran out of gas.
Renner won three straight elimination games, combining for 27 runs and 43 hits in its last two wins, and mounted several comebacks in those games.
“This is a huge stride for the program,” said Renner manager Zach Ireland. “One thing I’m proud about this team is they never gave up. They busted their butts every day.”
In a rematch of a Saturday semifinal, Post 22 jumped all over Renner starter Cayden Veland in the bottom of the first.
Veland retired the first batter he faced before allowing the next seven Hardhat batters to reach base safely.
Drake Messinger reached base after getting hit by a pitch and Matt Vickers followed with a single. Both runners later scored on a single to left by Erik Petry.
Timmy Paris followed with a single of his own, and Veland hit Zach Solano with a pitch to load the bases. Veland then forced in two more runs with walks to Cooper Bowman and Carter Deming, making it 4-0 Post 22.
Sam Haug rounded out the first-inning scoring for the Hardhats with a two-run single down the line in left after battling back from an 0-2 hole.
“It was huge,” Petry said of his team’s start. “We had to come out ready to play against these guys. They don’t give up.”
“Going down six runs right away, we knew that’d be tough (to overcome),” said Renner manager Zach Ireland. “All that I asked them to do was battle back. Find a way to scratch a run one inning … then another inning. We were only able to get two, but they battled, and I’m proud of them for that.”
Petry, who plated the games first run, ultimately drove in Post 22’s mercy rule-clinching 12th run.
Legion rules mandate games end if one team has a 10-run advantage after seven innings. Post 22 led 11-2 heading into the bottom of the eighth, so the Hardhats could end it with one run.
Messinger singled with one out and took second on defensive indifference. Petry smacked a single to center and Tiegen Lindner’s throw home wasn’t in time.
“This organization is bigger than any individual,” Messer said of Post 22 baseball. “It’ll always be that way. This is a unique treasure for our community.”
Follow Ryan Heuer on Twitter at @ArgusRHeuer.