The Babe Ruth 15U Wadena-Deer Creek Gold team defeated the Wadena-Deer Creek Blue team to advance to the state tournament. The team will face Parkers Prairie in pool play Thursday, July 22, at noon at Parkers Prairie High School Field.

Parkers Prairie advanced to the tournament with a convincing 14-1 win over Fergus Falls.

This is Coach Kyle Dykhoff's second trip to a state tournament this year after the WDC Wolverines made their first state appearance in more than 20 years this season. Dykhoff said Babe Ruth this year was different for Wadena-Deer Creek than it's ever been.

"We had to go with two teams this year because we had such good numbers of kids who wanted to play," Dykhoff said. "We could have had one really good team, but we went with two teams so more kids could get a chance to play."

The only problem with having two good teams is that they may face each other in the playoffs, which is exactly what happened. WDC Gold and WDC Blue faced each other in the game that determined which team would advance to the state tournament, and Gold defeated Blue to move on.

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"That game was the toughest thing I've had to do in coaching," Dykhoff said. "The players were good about it and handled it really well, but it was extremely difficult for me as a coach."

WDC Gold is allowed to draft three players from other teams in the league for pitcher/catcher positions, so Dykhoff decided those three players would be chosen from the Blue team. The teams finished Nos. 2 and 3 in the league and playoffs, and the kids had a lot of fun playing baseball.

While Dykhoff has enjoyed coaching the Babe Ruth teams, and it helps him develop players for high school and beyond, this will be his last year coaching at the Babe Ruth level.

"I'm moving down to Little League because my oldest son is going to be playing," Dykhoff said.

The state tournament will be competitive for WDC Gold, but there are a few keys that will help them be successful, according to Dykhoff.

"If we throw strikes and play defense, we should have a pretty good chance of advancing in the tournament," he said.