WYNOT — Until this past week, Wynot had never hosted a South Dakota Class B Amateur Baseball District Tournament.
With the help of his team, the Wynot Expos, Lee Heimes and a bunch of interested Wynot residents and community members made a dream a reality.
“The league requires certain standards for a town to be allowed to host a district,” Heimes said. “We had a lot of upgrades to do here at the park before we could put in to host.”
Seating was required, along with safety netting over the seating.
A grass infield also was required, as well as upgrades in the press box.
“The rain really set us back,” Heimes said. “But we got it done just in time.”
What resulted from all the hard work was a weeklong tournament featuring all the small-town nostalgia offered by town-team baseball.
“There is no way we could have done this without the complete support of the town and surrounding community,” Heimes said. “Everybody came together to get it done like we always do around here.”
Heimes’ father, Roman, was among those who pitched in and thoroughly enjoyed the fruits of their labor the entire week.
“I started taking Lee and his brothers to the ballpark when they were 9 years old,” Roman Heimes said. “It was a lot of hours, a lot of fun and it helped the boys grow as players and people — I wouldn’t trade a minute of it and I’m still coming out — I would do it again 500 times over.”
Jim Hans was another local who pitched in on the upgrades and the tournament itself.
“We basically had around 30 days to make this all work,” Hans said. “I wasn’t sure we could get it all done, but we made it — it sure looks great.”
Hans was also arguably the most popular worker during the tournament.
He was in charge of the “adult” beverage cart that traveled through the crowd selling its wares.
“People kind of like to see us come around,” he said.
Not to be forgotten, there was some business to tend to on the field Sunday as well.
Four teams remained alive in the tournament for three spots in next week’s Class B South Dakota State Amateur Tournament in Mitchell, South Dakota.
In the first game Sunday, which was scheduled for Saturday but postponed, Tabor, South Dakota, ran away from Irene, South Dakota, 11-1 to claim the No. 4 spot in Mitchell from this district.
Crofton had already claimed the second spot while Freeman, South Dakota, grabbed the third slot.
In the nightcap of the doubleheader, the hometown nine grabbed a place in Mitchell with an 11-10 nail-biter over Menno, South Dakota, to claim the district championship. Menno claimed the No. 1 1 representation from the district.
The Expos scored a pair of runs in the first inning as Chase Rolfe walked and Dawson Sudbeck got aboard with a single.
Both runners would eventually score, but the opening frame ended with Menno in front 3-2.
Wynot would add four runs in the third, but Menno responded with a single run in the third then added four of its own in the fourth.
By the end of the fourth inning, the game was deadlocked 8-8.
Ryan Heimes got on in the bottom of the eighth with a single followed by base hit from Rolfe.
After a couple of strikeouts for Wynot, a Kyle Vrepen double plated a couple of runs to make it 11-10.
Menno would get runners on second and third in the top of the ninth, but a groundout, strikeout and a fly ball to right field ended the game.
Wynot’s Jackson Sudbeck was named the tournament MVP after going 7 for 13 at the plate with three runs and three RBIs, and he also pitched 10 innings in the tournament accumulating a win and a save.
Wynot will move along to take on Corsica-Stickney in the opening round of the state tournament in Mitchell on Wednesday, Aug. 7, at 7:30 p.m.
Crofton takes on Harrisburg, South Dakota, at 11 a.m. Thursday, Aug. 8.
The single-elimination tournament will continue until a champion is crowned Aug. 12 at 2 p.m. at Mitchell’s Cadwell Park.