Baseball: Sperry, Rochester Lourdes sends Wadena-Deer Creek to state Class 2A consolation bracket
Joe Sperry pitches 5 2/3 innings and goes 2-for-3 at the plate with four RBIs in Rochester Lourdes' 7-3 win over WDC
ST. CLOUD — The Minnesota state baseball tournament features good players at every level. It also showcases kids like Rochester Lourdes’ Joe Sperry.
The fifth-seeded Eagles knocked off the fourth-seeded Wadena-Deer Creek Wolverines 7-3 behind Sperry’s high-heat pitching and timely hitting.
“You have to tip your hat to him,” WDC head coach Kyle Dykhoff said. “He carried the load for them offensively and pitched one heck of a game for them on the mound. We’ve been on the other side of those performances. It’s baseball. All we can do is keep our heads up, tip our cap, say good game to (Sperry) and come back tomorrow to have some fun.”
Sperry pitched 5.2 innings, allowing two runs on six hits with two walks. Of his 17 recorded outs, 11 were strikeouts.
At the plate, Sperry went 2-for-3 with four RBIs and an intentional walk. He’s committed to play baseball at the University of South Carolina-Lancaster next year.
The Eagles struck first in the top of the fourth inning. Sperry drove a triple over the head of Isaac Hamann in center field to score the game’s first run. The lead doubled on a passed ball one batter later.
WDC got both runs back in the bottom of the fifth inning. Josh Dykhoff matched Sperry’s hit with a run-scoring double to center field. Connor Davis looped a hit over second base to tie the game with two outs.
Lourdes wasted no time retaking the lead in the top of the sixth. A pair of leadoff walks chased Dykhoff out of the game.
Payton Rondestvedt gave up a softly-hit single to load the bases for Sperry. With a 3-0 count, he cleared the bases with a double off the wall in center field.
“They were able to bunch things together and get some big swings out of (Sperry),” coach Dykhoff said. “Unfortunately, we couldn’t wiggle out of it.”
Trailing 6-2, the Wolverines found some life in the bottom of the sixth inning. With two outs, Peyton Church got on after an error at second base. Teshe Loer and Hamann walked to load the bases for Dykhoff.
Sperry was taken out following the error. The Eagles turned to Braden Mlenar, who was pulled after his two walks.
Nicholas Bowron threw one pitch to Dykhoff. He spiked an off-speed pitch in the dirt. It kicked off the backstop and rolled back to the batter’s box. Catcher Sam Schneider flipped the ball to Bowron, who tagged Simon Kreklou, Church's courtesy runner, at home to end the inning.
“That’s just tough luck and not getting the bounces,” coach Dykhoff said. “99% of the time that kid scores. You have a rubber mat there, and we don’t always play with that kind of back stop. That’s not what the difference in the game was. (Lourdes) did a better job of bunching things up offensively.”
The Eagles added another run in the top of the seventh on a sacrifice fly from Schneider.
Needing a minor miracle, the Wolverines loaded the bases in the bottom of the frame. Evan Lunde grounded into a double play before Carson Kern struck out to end the game. WDC scored a run on the double play.
Dykhoff went over five innings on the mound for the Wolverines. He allowed four runs on two hits with two walks. He struck out 10 batters before Rondestvedt closed out the final two innings. Neither will be available to rest of the tournament due to pitch count rules.
Even though this WDC’s second straight season at state, it’s the first time this group will play on a second day.
Due to the 2021 COVID-19 pandemic restrictions, the Wolverines’ 3-1 loss to Plainview-Elgin-Millville in the opening round meant the end of their season. This time, WDC will get one more chance to keep its season alive in the consolation bracket.
“Our motto, going into the playoffs, was to have some fun,” coach Dykhoff said. “This is a great group of kids, and they’ve been a pleasure to coach. I’ve told them to look around the room at the kids next to them and recognize that this is their last go-around together. How do you want to remember it? Obviously, it’s going to take a little bit. This one burns, but how do you want tomorrow to be remembered? We want to come back with a smile, have fun and go play some baseball.”
WDC will play the Sibley East at St Cloud Orthopedics Field in Sartell at 10 a.m. The winner moves onto the consolation championship back at Dick Putz Field in St. Cloud at 5 p.m.
ROCHESTER LOURDES (19-4) 000 204 1 - 7
WADENA-DEER CREEK (23-5) 000 020 1 - 3
WP: Joe Sperry (5.2 IP, 6H, 2R, 2ER, 11K, 2BB)
LP: Josh Dykhoff (5IP, 2H, 4R, 4ER, 10K, 2BB)