Throughout the Section 8AA playoffs, the Perham Yellowjackets have been accustomed to putting up crooked numbers on their opposition. The big inning and the big fly helped the Yellowjackets to a 9-5 Section 8AA Championship victory over Wadena-Deer Creek at Krueger Field on June 6.
Dawson Stevens’ three-run home run to left centerfield gave the Yellowjackets the lead for good in the sixth inning. It was the third of three home runs by the Yellowjackets in the win.
“It feels great. This program deserves it. Everyone deserves it. It just feels great,” Stevens said. “I was hunting fastball and anything that I can get around. I finally got the fastball I needed. I have done well at the plate. I caught the one and it went out. It felt good (off the bat). It was really high, so I thought it had a chance. When I saw it go over, I knew we had a chance to win this whole thing.”
Carter Mulcahy hit a first inning solo blast, while Maddux Kovash hit a two-run shot in the fourth. However, it was the Wolverines, who started with the big fly and the early lead with a pair of crooked numbers of their own.
Max Phillips singled in a pair of runs in the second, while Justin Dykhoff singled home a run in the third. Payton Rondestvedt followed with a two-run home run, which gave the Wolverines a 5-1 lead.
However, the Wolverines were unable to avoid the big inning against the Yellowjackets, which ultimately was their downfall in the game.
“It was a tough one. We jumped out to an early lead and kind of had command of the game,” Wadena-Deer Creek’s Kyle Dykhoff said. “We let things get away from us in the later innings and gave up the big inning. In baseball, especially playoff baseball, you have to eliminate the big inning to keep yourself there at the end.”
While Perham head coach James Mulcahy wasn’t happy with the start that had the Yellowjackets down four runs. He said he was proud of his team and how they battled trailing by four.
“We are a big inning group. The way we swing it and with our approach, we just know we can come back at any given time,” Mulcahy said. “A 5-1 lead is not insurmountable, and the guys know that. We have the hitters that can drive balls to the gap, they know what to do in certain situations and get guys in scoring position. When it’s all said and done, they are just confident in that.”
Carter Mulcahy played a big role in the outcome of the game. Behind the plate he picked off a pair of runners and while at the plate, he finished with four hits, four runs scored and a run batted in. Mulcahy’s third hit of the game sparked the five run sixth inning. After Stevens’ home run, Josh Jeziorski singled and Chayse Solberg walked put two on. WIth two outs, Noah Rooney delivered with a triple to right field, making it 8-5. Mulcahy doubled to start the seventh and scored on a single Stevens.
Maddux Kovash earned the win on the mound. He went the distance and allowed five runs, two earned, on 10 hits. He struck out four and walked four batters.
Rondestvedt took the loss for the Wolverines. He went five innings and allowed seven runs on six hits. He struck out three batters.
Colby Schertler, Justin Dykhoff and Hamann finished with two hits each for Wadena-DC. Rondestvedt, Josh Dykhoff, Phillips and Lleyten Pettit finished with a hit each.
The Wolverines finished the 2019 season with a record of 24-3, which included four straight elimination game victories.
“I am very proud of this team. They exceeded expectations of others. They had set out early to be really good,” Kyle Dykhoff said. “They have proved that. We had a tough loss to Breckenridge, but we fought back this week and got back to this championship game where we wanted to be. Unfortunately, we didn’t get the breaks that we needed today. We tip our caps to Perham. They are a very good baseball team.”
Stevens finished with two hits and four runs batted in, while Jeziorski added two hits. Kovash drove in two runs, while Rooney drove in two as well for Perham.
The victory for Perham avenges a string of tough losses to Wadena-DC. The Wolverines eliminated Perham from last year’s Section 8AA playoffs and defeated Perham 6-0 earlier in the regular season. It’s a rivalry that has grown throughout the years between the two teams.
“It’s a great rivalry. They have really been down to the wire going back to minor league, little league and babe ruth. It seems like they are always competing against each other in a semifinal or a final,” Mulcahy said. “It’s nice to have a team that competitive 20 miles down the road that we can knock heads with and respect each other when it’s all said and done.”
The Yellowjackets improve their record to 22-2 and will play in the Class AA Championships on Thursday, June 13 and Friday, June 14 at Putz Field in St. Cloud against an opponent to be determined.
Wadena-DC vs. East Grand Forks
The Wadena-Deer Creek Wolverines used a pair of big innings to blast the East Grand Forks Green Wave out of the Section 8AA Tournament with a 15-3 victory on June 6.
The Wolverines set the tone with six runs in the second inning and closed it out with eight runs in the sixth for the mercy rule victory.
Noah Roers set the tone with a two-run blast to left in the second inning. Max Phillips capped the game off with a grand slam home run.
Justin Dykhoff finished with three hits and four runs batted in, while Phillips added three hits and five runs batted in for the Wolverines.
Dykhoff picked up the win for Wadena-DC. He allowed three runs on nine hits. He struck out five batters, with four strikeouts coming in key moments in the fifth and sixth innings when East Grand Forks was threatening to get back into the game.
Everyone in the Wadena-DC lineup came around to score in the game as the Wolverines belted Logan Spencer, who took the loss for East Grand Forks. He went five innings and allowed 11 runs on 12 hits. He struck out three and walked two batters.