It was as close to perfect as a team could ask for in their season-opener. Wadena-Deer Creek senior pitcher Justin Dykhoff pitched a complete game no-hitter to start the season, lifting the Wolverines to a 3-1 victory over the Pillager Huskies on April 5 in Pillager.
Dykhoff was so dominant that the Huskies only put five baseballs in play against the right-handed pitcher, who committed to play baseball at Minnesota State Fergus Falls next season. Dykhoff struck out 16 batters and walked just two for the win.
‘It was a great way to get things started. Justin (Dykhoff) came out and threw strikes and let our defense play,” Wadena-DC head coach Kyle Dykhoff said. “We got a few timely hits to put a few runs on the board, which turned out to be plenty.”
Justin retired eight batters in a row after a first inning walk and then retired nine batters in a row after an error in the fourth inning.
“It was a great outing. He has put in a lot of work with a lot of bullpens over the winter, getting ready, so that he was in pitching shape,” Kyle Dykhoff said. “It took him the first inning to find his breaking ball, but once he found that he was able to change speeds and keep hitters off-balance the whole game.”
The Wolverines struck for a pair of runs in the second inning. Chase Nordlund singled and moved to second on an error and moved to third on a single by Dylan Ness. Max Phillips plated a run with a groundout, making it 1-0. Tony Kreklau followed with an RBI double with two outs, making it 2-0.
“It was a good thing to settle the nerves out of the gate,” Kyle Dykhoff said of the quick lead.
The Wolverines added an insurance run in the sixth when Colby Schertler singled and eventually scored on an RBI single by Josh Dykhoff.
The story of the game for the Wolverines was the senior pitcher, who is ready to step in as one of the top pitchers in the area, following in the footsteps of several Wadena-DC pitchers throughout the years.
“It’s big for us to know with each outing that Justin is on the mound, that we are going to be confident to have a chance to win every game that he is throwing,” Kyle Dykhoff said. “It’s big to have that senior leadership to show the guys what it takes.”
Kreklau, Colby Schertler, Nordlund and Josh Dykhoff had single hits in the game, while Ness finished with two hits for Wadena-DC.
Cade Barrett took the loss, allowing two runs on four hits in four innings of work.
WDC 3 6 2
PIL 0 0 2
WP: Justin Dykhoff
LP: Cade Barrett