The Bluffton Braves rallied from an 8-3 deficit to score six straight runs in the final four innings for a 9-8 victory over the Perham Pirates in the winner's bracket championship of the Region 14C Tournament at Al Krueger Field on Aug. 4.
The Braves will be making their second straight trip to the Class C Tournament and reserved their spot in the Region 14C Championship game on Aug. 10 in Perham.
Bluffton's Dustin Geiser settled things down for the Braves in relief. He pitched five and two-thirds, allowing one run on four hits. He fanned 10 Perham batters in slowing the Pirates' momentum after they built up a 7-3 lead in the fourth.
Bluffton started the scoring in the first with two outs. Jake Dykhoff singled and eventually scored on a hit-and-run with Kyle Dykhoff to make it 1-0 in the first.
However, Perham struck for four runs in the third inning. Josh Still was hit by a pitch, followed by a walk to Josh Bollig. Jace Kovash followed with a single and Roo Schmitz hit a sacrifice fly. Gavin Biegler and Chris Ruther followed with singles for Perham and the Pirates held a 4-1 edge.
Bluffton quickly responded with two runs in the third inning. Jake Dykhoff and Sam Tellers singled and eventually scored on an RBI knock by Kevin Tumberg, cutting the Perham lead to a run.
Perham responded with four more runs in the fourth inning. JT Laughlin singled, which was followed by a bunt from Nick Lindberg. Josh Still singled and Josh Bollig singled as well. Kovash followed with his second hit of the game and Schmitz followed with an RBI double. However, Bluffton escaped further damage but trailed 8-3.
The veteran Bluffton team chipped away at the Perham lead. Bluffton scored a pair of runs in the fifth when Jake Dykhoff, Sam Tellers and Tumberg all singled and Bluffton made it a new ballgame in the sixth with three runs.
Bluffton eventually took the lead in the seventh inning when the Braves pushed a run across. A pair of Perham errors put two runners on base for the Braves in the seventh. However, one of them was cut down at the plate on a strong throw from JT Laughlin. With two outs, Cody Geiser singled home Dustin Geiser, giving Bluffton the lead.
Dustin Geiser settled in and allowed just three baserunners in the final five innings of the game, helping the Braves into the Region 14C Championship.
Jake Dykhoff finished with four hits, three runs scored and two runs batted in. Kyle Dykhoff added a pair of hits and two runs batted in. Kevin Tumberg drove in a pair of runs and finished with three hits. Cody Geiser finished with two hits and a run batted in. Bluffton finished the game with 13 hits.
Roo Schmitz took the loss in relief for Perham. He went an inning plus and allowed one unearned run on three hits. He walked one and struck out two. Schmitz helped the Pirates at the plate with three hits and three runs batted in. Kovash finished with two hits and two runs batted in for Perham. Bollig and Ruther finished with a hit and a run batted in. Biegler, Laughlin, Nick Lindberg and Josh Still each had hits for Perham.
The Region 14C Tournament continues with an elimination game on Aug. 9 when the Staples Lumberbats takes on the Midway Snurdbirds at Krueger Field. The winner of that game will play Perham with a state berth and a spot in the Region 14C Championship on the line on Aug. 10 at Krueger Field. Bluffton awaits the winner of the Perham and Staples/Midway winner at 4 p.m. in the Region 14C Championship.
Other Region 14C Results
The Wadena-Deer Creek Shockers had their run cut short at the Region 14C Tournament. The Shockers opened the tournament with an extra inning victory over Park Rapids, 6-5. However, Wadena-Deer Creek ran into a hot-hitting Perham Pirate team that belted out 12 hits in a 10-4 victory.
The Shockers season came to a close when the Midway Snurdbirds continued their run. The Snurdbirds earned a 10-6 victory over the Shockers.
New York Mills opened with a tough 2-0 defeat to the Staples Lumberbats in the first round of the tournament. The Millers were edged out of the tournament by the Snurdbirds in an elimination game 4-2.