Baseball: Albany rallies, sends Wadena-Deer Creek to elimination bracket

Albany's big fifth inning was enough to keep the Wadena-Deer Creek bats at bay on Monday night in the Section 6-2A semifinals.

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Wadena-Deer Creek's Payton Rondestvedt pitches in the Wolverines' 7-3 loss against Albany on June 6, 2022 at Dick Putz Field in St. Cloud.
Jared Rubado / Wadena Pioneer Journal

ST. CLOUD – Wadena-Deer Creek is accustomed to seventh-inning magic in the Section 6-2A baseball playoffs by now. But this time, the hill was too steep.

With one out and the bases loaded, the third-seeded Wolverines (20-4) brought the tying run to the plate twice against fourth-seeded Albany (19-5). Braden Holan got Connor Davis and Evan Lunde to pop out to push the Huskies to the Section 6-2A title game on Thursday with a 7-3 win.

"We had some good at-bats, and we hit the ball well tonight. We just got stung with the big inning," WDC head coach Kyle Dykhoff said. "In baseball, you get hit with those big innings and hope you can wiggle out of it. Unfortunately, we weren't able to wiggle out of this one."

Albany's big inning started with a pair of hits before a Brady Holan-double in the right-center field gap cut the 2-0 deficit in half. Josh Dykhoff came in relief for Payton Rondestvedt on the mound with runners on second and third.

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Connor Davis makes a catch at third base in the Wolverines' 7-3 loss against Albany on June 6, 2022 at Dick Putz Field in St. Cloud.
Jared Rubado / Wadena Pioneer Journal

The Huskies took their first lead of the game in the next at-bat. Brady Goebel punched a softly-hit ball up the middle of the infield. Isaac Hamann's throw from center field to home wasn't in time, giving Albany a one-run lead.


The Huskies loaded the bases with a two-out infield single before Carter Birr and Connor Holtham were hit by pitches, driving in two more runs. Albany's five-run burst was enough of a cushion to coast to the section championship game on Thursday night.

WDC took a 1-0 lead in the first inning with an RBI single from Connor Davis. Isaac Hamann reached base with a single on the game's first pitch. He got to second on a passed ball before Davis ripped a two-out single to center field.

Rondestvedt's first time through the order was nearly perfect. He danced around a two-out walk and a softly-hit single in the bottom of the first inning before retiring the next seven batters in order.

The Wolverines scratched another run across the board in the top of the fourth inning on another RBI single from Davis. Rondestvedt reached first with a hit to lead off the inning before advancing to second on a passed ball. Davis hit a screamer down the third-base line before being thrown out at second base trying for a double.

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Wadena-Deer Creek's Josh Dykhoff throws the ball to first base in the Wolverines' 7-3 loss against Albany on June 6, 2022 at Dick Putz Field in St. Cloud.
Jared Rubado / Wadena Pioneer Journal

"He's been our RBI guy, and he's in the four-hole for a reason," Dykhoff said of Davis. "He brings runs in because he's aggressive, and he hits the ball hard. That's always been his approach, and he continued that today… He comes to the plate with runners on quite often, so that's why he's there. He had a good day. Unfortunately, the hits were scattered, and they were all singles. We just couldn't get one to find a hole and bust things open."

Albany added to its three-run lead in the sixth inning when Tanner Reis found space through the right side of the infield to score a pair of runs on a two-out single.

Rondestvedt got one run back with a bases-loaded single in the top of the seventh inning.

While WDC is as battle-tested as they come, so is Albany. The Huskies went to state in 2021 out of Section 6-2A, which is notorious for having one of the most loaded playoff fields in the state.


"Every team is going to be very deep, especially a team like Albany," Dykhoff said. "They have 10, 11 or 12 seniors every year--it seems like. They have upperclassmen in their lineup 1-9, and they were in the state tournament last year. They keep grinding when they're behind, and they find a way to win. We have to find ways to get those breaks and find ways to win playoff baseball."

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Wadena-Deer Creek's Carson Kern catches a pop fly at second base in the Wolverines' 7-3 loss against Albany on June 6, 2022 at Dick Putz Field in St. Cloud.
Jared Rubado / Wadena Pioneer Journal

On Tuesday, the Wolverines will play the winner of second-seeded Pierz (18-5) and eighth-seeded Eden Valley-Watkins (14-10) in St. Cloud. Both teams stayed alive in elimination games on Monday night.

If Pierz wins, it sets up a rematch from last Thursday. The Pioneers will look to bounce back from Josh Dykhoff's epic performance to snag the final spot in the 6-2A title game. If Eden Valley-Watkins stays alive, it will have successfully beaten the top two seeds in the field and have a date with the third.

"I told the kids to leave it all out on the field and have fun with it," Dykhoff said. "It's baseball. It's the same game we've played all along. We need to find a way to flush tonight's game and leave it all out there. We've been here with our backs to the wall. You just have to believe. Take it one inning at a time."

WADENA-DEER CREEK 100 100 1 - 3

ALBANY 000 052 - 7

WP: Carter Sand (5IP, 6H, 2R, 2ER, 1BB, 4K)

LP: Payton Rondestvedt (4.1IP, 4H, 3R, 3ER, 2BB, 7K)

Jared Rubado is the sports editor for the Detroit Lakes Tribune and the Perham Focus. He moved to the area in September of 2021 after covering sports for the Alexandria Echo Press for nearly three years. Jared graduated from the University of Augustana in 2018 with degrees in journalism and sports managment.
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