Cardiac kids: Wadena-Deer Creek knocks off Albany twice to win Section 6-2A baseball title
The Wadena-Deer Creek baseball team found ways to win over fourth-seeded Albany. After dropping Monday's game agains the Huskies, the third-seeded Wolverines battled through the elimination bracket for a second straight year to clinch a state berth,
ST. CLOUD – Climbing out of the elimination bracket in the section playoffs is nothing new to the Wadena-Deer Creek baseball team. Yet, the celebration is just as sweet every time.
The Wolverines (23-4) went into Dick Putz Field on Thursday, needing to win two games against Albany (19-7) to keep their season alive. They left with their second section championship plaque in as many seasons.
“That’s been us all year,” Isaac Hamann said on battling through adversity. “We started the season off weak. We weren’t hitting the ball, but we found a way. We dug deep. Coach Kyle (Dykhoff) always tells us to dig deep and find it. We did that, and we showed it today.”
After an 8-1 win in game one, WDC needed just two runs in the second game to win the Section 6-2A title.
Simon Kreklau scored on a passed ball before Carson Kern crossed home on Josh Dykhoff’s bases-loaded walk. The two-run fifth inning was the only scoring in WDC’s 2-0 win.
“Not until the last out,” coach Dykhoff said when asked if he ever felt like two runs would be enough to win. “In the game of baseball, I’ve seen some crazy things. You never feel like you got it until that third out is made. That moment, that special movement for these kids to celebrate, they’ll remember it for the rest of their lives, and so will I.”
This WDC postseason run has been filled with signature moments. On Thursday, senior Payton Rondestvedt added a few more. He reached his pitch-count limit of 115 after starting both games on the mound.
Once Rondestvedt had to come out, the Wolverines turned to junior Isaac Hamann. He threw five shutout innings and kept a potent Albany offense at bay.
“It feels great, but it wasn’t me,” Hamann said. “My defense played phenomenal behind me. We were shaky all year, but we showed today how good we could play defense. I see Payton, and he had a heck of a night. He pitched like nine innings and 115 pitches. I just didn’t want to let that down. I just let my defense do the work behind me.”
Rondestvedt and Josh Dykhoff are two players that not only lead in most of WDC’s statistical categories but also by example. They had their fingerprints all over this playoff run, and will lead a team that will be a tough out in the Class 2A state tournament starting June 14 in St. Cloud.
“They’re great,” Hamann said of Dykhoff and Rondestvedt. “They’re always trying to get us in the cage working. They lead by example, and they stay humble. It’s great to have two leaders like that on our team.”
WDC found a way to win, which this group of players has done since youth baseball. While the stars showed up in every game of the Wolverines’ section tournament run, the unsung heroes got the boat rowing in the right direction.
“I knew, coming into today, it’s going to be tough to beat Albany twice,” coach Dykhoff said. “If we could wiggle out and eliminate the big inning, we’d have a chance. Credit to our pitchers for coming out and doing their thing. Payton started both games, and Tyson closed it out in game one. Tyson caught all but two innings of our section playoffs. He deserved to be on the bump, but he needed to do what he did behind the dish. It may go unnoticed by some, but not here. The kids know he sacrificed for us.”
Last spring, WDC did the same thing against Perham. After the Yellowjackets bounced the Wolverines into the elimination bracket, they found a way to win three straight and clinch a state berth. Albany suffered the same fate.
For WDC, it didn’t matter how much tougher Section 6-2A was compared to 8-2A. It always found a way to “wiggle out.”
“Everything is paying off right now,” Hamann said. “It’s so nice. It feels like the whole town is behind us. All of those nights in the cage paid off.”
“They were in a lot of pressure situations today, and they were able to wiggle out and find ways to win,” coach Dykhoff said. “They grinded it out and found ways to win. I’m so proud of these boys, and I’m so happy for them.”