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Wadena-DC takes home Northeast Substate Championship

The Wadena-DC American Legion baseball team celebrates its 5-4 victory over Pierz in the Northeast Substate Championship game in Ely. Jason Groth/Pioneer Journal1 / 3
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Wadena-DC's Justin Dykhoff applies the tag and holds onto the ball at the plate. Jason Groth/Pioneer Journal3 / 3

Wadena-Deer Creek American Legion head coach Ron Schertler said Jake Dykhoff has the green light when he is on the base paths. The graduated senior took advantage by swiping third and scampering into home on the errant throw helping Wadena-DC capture the Northeast Substate Division II Championship with a 5-4 victory over Pierz on July 28 in Ely, Minn.

“First of all, the pitcher did not pay attention to me. I got a big lead and a big jump. I think I would have been safe anyways,” Dykhoff said. “They airmailed the throw and my heart was going on the way home. It’s amazing.”

Jake Dykhoff gets up after sliding and sees the ball in left field as he scored the game-winning run for Wadena-DC.

It was the second time Wadena-DC had to respond to adversity in the contest. They fell behind 3-0 before grabbing their first lead. However, they gave that up quickly before responding with the game’s final answer.

“We got behind early, but the nice thing about these guys is they don’t give up,” Schertler said. “It’s pretty exciting and it’s all about these guys.”

Dykhoff started the seventh with a walk. He was bunted over to second by Justin Dykhoff. Wyatt Hamann was intentionally walked before the big steal. On the first pitch to Colby Schertler, Dykhoff broke for third and the throw ended up in left field, allowing Dykhoff to run home and into the arms of his teammates at the plate.

“It’s amazing. It’s a great group of guys that we have here,” Dykhoff said. “We have been together a long time now, especially these seniors. We are especially happy with how the varsity season ended. This is exciting.”

Wadena-DC was needing a spark after falling behind by three runs and it came from Max Phillips. The No. 9 batter fell behind in the count and fouled off a couple of pitches before lacing an RBI double to cut the lead to two in the fifth.

“Soon as they got to three runs, we were down a bit,” Dykhoff said. “Max (Phillips) had that big at bat in the fifth inning and that sparked everything. It was just a great game.”

Noah Ross followed with a walk and Jake Dykhoff doubled into the right centerfield gap to score Phillips and Ross to tie the game at three. Colby Schertler gave Wadena-DC the lead when he chopped a ground ball to third. However, the throw was errant, allowing Dykhoff to score.

Pierz answered back in the seventh. Jared Prokott singled and scored with aggressive base running. A ground ball was mishandled and the throw was late to first. He continued to run from second and evened the game at four. Prokott was a thorn in the Wadena-DC’s side. He finished with three hits and three runs scored for Pierz. Reese Kapsner drove in three runs while Alex Funk added two hits.

Noah Roers started on the mound but did not factor in the decision. He pitched into the sixth inning and allowed three runs on five hits. He struck out one and walked one batter. Wadena-DC's Noah Roers delivers to the plate in the championship game.

“It was a great performance by Noah,” Schertler said. “We really needed that today. He really stepped in and did a great job. We have played Pierz five times in the last two years and he has come in an pitched great against them in every game.”

Wyatt Hamann picked up the win in relief. Hamann, pitched just three innings during the year, allowed one run on two hits. He struck out one batter.

Wadena-DC had just three hits in the game which were by Phillips, Hamann and Jake Dykhoff. They capitalized on six errors from Pierz.

Kapsner took the loss on the mound. He allowed two runs on one hit. He struck out three and walked one. Preston Rouchleau started and pitched into the fourth before being removed due to pitch count. He didn’t allow a run and gave up one hit. He fanned three and walked one. Isaac Otte went a third of an inning and allowed three runs on one hit. He struck out one and walked one. Wadena-DC's Bryce Cooper catches the pop fly near the fence along the third base line.

Wadena-DC will now play the winner of the West Central Substate at 4 p.m. on Aug. 3 in Pelican Rapids.

“It’s amazing and it’s redemption from the varsity season and it’s just great. Our hearts were broken during the varsity season,” Dykhoff said. “To do this is amazing, I’m so happy right now.

Jason Groth

 Groth is a Minnesota Newspaper Association award-winning Sports Editor of the Perham Focus and the Wadena Pioneer Journal. Groth worked in Grand Rapids as the Sports Director at KOZY/KMFY radio for two years and prior to that he was the Sports Editor/Writer for the Grand Rapids Herald-Review for seven years. 

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