The Wadena-Deer Creek 15U Gold team surpassed expectations and very nearly became Babe Ruth champions in state tournament play over the weekend thanks to a stellar lineup of players.
The six game tournament was not for the weak as the group had to bring their best against each team. That began with a game against Parkers Prairie on Thursday, July 22. Parkers Prairie found a way past WDC 3-1 in the first of three pool play. But one loss didn’t bring the end for the Wolverines.
On Friday, WDC took on Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton and heralded a 4-2 win with Peyton Church leading at the pitchers mound.
In order to move on WDC had to claim another victory, which they grasped after handily defeating Waite Park 12-5. Connor Davis was the winning pitcher and, because he can, went 3-for-3 at the plate.
Saturday play brought a matchup with Albany, the favored team. Predictions aside, the Wolverines came to bat and notched an 11-4 win over the Huskies. Yet another pitcher, Isaac Hamann came through for the Wolverines.
“Everybody was a pitcher,” Dykhoff said.
On a Sunday morning semi-final match made in baseball dreams, WDC took on Holdingford in a real nail biter. Coach Kyle Dykhoff said the games are seven innings by regulations, but the score was two goose eggs until Kobe Snyber smacked a walk off base hit in the bottom of the ninth inning to claim yet another win. Connnor Dutke and Simon Kreklau combined their pitching prowess for the shutout.
Dykhoff said the final game on Sunday, his last as a Babe Ruth coach (for now), was a great one as the Wolverines had to overcome an impressive Barnesville team to earn the championship. After coming so far and working so hard, the Wolverines fell to Barnesville but the margin for error was zero.
Barnesville struck first and held a 2-0 lead. But the Wolverines came back to tie the game at 4-4. Barnesville scratched ahead once more with a walk off base hit in the seventh inning and held off WDC to win 5-4.
“That was a great game,” Dykhoff said. But after six games in the heat and using every pitcher they had, resources were limited for the final bout.
“We were down to guys who had pitched before but not a ton,” Dykhoff said. “They played really well and battled some really great teams to get to that championship game.”
Just getting to the championship game was tough as Dykhoff had to split teams and put two WDC teams - Gold and Blue - against each other to determine who would advance. He was able to draft three players to the Gold team, but they could only pitch or catch.
He shared that having two fairly evenly matched WDC teams bodes well for the future of Wolverine baseball.
Dykhoff said after such an amazing season it’s tough to be done with Babe Ruth. He’ll be moving to Little League next season in order to coach his son. He’s coached Babe Ruth now for about 12 years.
“It was a nice group to go out with,” Dykhoff said. "They improved a ton over the summer and I'm looking forward to what the future holds."