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Region 14C baseball: Josh Dykhoff, Bluffton walks-off Perham in 10-inning classic; Geiser celebrates 50 years

Josh Dykhoff took a 3-2 pitch to deep center field with the bases loaded in a tie game in the bottom of the 10th inning. It's another signature moment for WDC's graduated senior in a year full of standout performances. Longtime Bluffton manager Terry Geiser celebrated his 50th year with the club before the Braves entered Region 14C tournament play.

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Bluffton's Cody Geiser, left, and Justin Dykhoff celebrate the game-tying run in the seventh inning in Bluffton's 5-4 win over Perham in 10 innings on Aug. 6, 2022 at Al Krueger Field in the Region 14C second round.
Jared Rubado / Wadena Pioneer Journal
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PERHAM – At some point in their life, every baseball player has stood in a batter's box with a wiffleball bat in hand with the same scenario running through their head. Bases loaded, two outs and a 3-2 count with the game tied.

Most players never get a chance to be in that scenario in a meaningful game. Then again, most players aren't Josh Dykkhoff. The Bluffton standout launched a deep fly ball over the head of Perham's Chris Ruther in center field to send the Braves' faithful home happy in the bottom of the 10th inning.

"When you're in a spot where it's a 3-2 count, two outs, bottom of the 10th in a tie game, you know he's coming at you with a fastball," Josh Dykhoff said. "All he has to do is make sure it's in the zone. He let up a little bit on that last one and just got it over. When you see that, you just trust your instincts and hit it. It's the same as it is in any other count. Just hit it."

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Perham's Dawson Stevens walks back to the dugout after hitting a three-run home run in Bluffton's 5-4 win over Perham in 10 innings on Aug. 6, 2022 at Al Krueger Field in the Region 14C second round.
Jared Rubado / Perham Focus

Josh Dykhoff's walk-off hit against Chas Melvin gave Bluffton a 5-4 win in the Region 14C second round and one step closer to a fifth consecutive state tournament appearance.
Josh Dykhoff graduated from Wadena-Deer Creek high school in the spring and racked up a scrapbook full of signature baseball moments in the spring and summer of his senior year.

He put together one of the best single-game performances in WDC baseball history against Pierz with a complete-game, 15-strikeout pitching gem. In the same game, he hit for the cycle, which included a go-ahead home run in the seventh inning. Two months later, Dykhoff pitched 8 and 1/3 innings in the opening game of the state legion baseball tournament before Payton Rondestvedt closed out the remainder of a 15-inning 1-0 win over Luverne. Two days later, Post 171 brought home the state title.

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1 Bluffton Wyatt Hamann AD7C4699.JPG
Bluffton's Wyatt Hamann tracks a fly ball in Bluffton's 5-4 win over Perham in 10 innings on Aug. 6, 2022 at Al Krueger Field in the Region 14C second round.
Jared Rubado / Wadena Pioneer Journal

"It's very cool to see him come through because he's one of the nicest people you'll ever run into," Bluffton manager Terry Geiser said. "He's an even-keeled kind of guy that plays his butt off. It's just special to see Josh do something like that for this team."

Bluffton's euphoric win didn't come without long stretches of anxiousness. Perham took a 3-0 lead in the top of the fourth inning when Dawson Stevens got a hold of a Jake Dykhoff's hanging breaking ball.

The Braves got a run back in the fifth inning but were still left searching for the big hit. They stranded runners on second and third base four times in the first six innings before breaking through in the seventh.

With Rondestvedt and Josh Dykhoff on third and first base and one out, Justin Dykhoff chopped a ball to Maddux Kovash in the grass on the right side of the infield. Rondestvedt beat the throw home, keeping runners on the corners with the score at 3-2.

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Perham's Gamble Bye, middle, smiles after making an overhead catch in Bluffton's 5-4 win over Perham in 10 innings on Aug. 6, 2022 at Al Krueger Field in the Region 14C second round.
Jared Rubado / Perham Focus

In the next at-bat, Logan Pulju, Justin Dykhoff's courtesy runner and a Perham High School graduate, broke for second base in one of the oldest tricks in baseball: the double steal. Terry Geiser, who's in his 50th year with the Braves, went back to one of the stables of baserunning to tie the game.

"The plan was just to send the guy and see what happens," he said. "You have to take a chance to try to make something happen. Getting in positions where it's OK to take those chances is a big part of it."

Wyatt Hamann followed the game-tying play with a go-ahead, two-out single to give Bluffton its first lead of the night.

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Bluffton Jake Dykhoff pitches in Bluffton's 5-4 win over Perham in 10 innings on Aug. 6, 2022 at Al Krueger Field in the Region 14C second round.
Jared Rubado / Wadena Pioneer Journal

"He was huge today," Josh Dykhoff said of Wyatt Hamann. "He's been struggling this year, and sometimes when you're struggling, you're always due, and when you're due, you break out in a big way. That's what he did today."

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The Pirates found some magic of their own when they got down to their final two outs. Chance Bye and Dawson Stevens reached on errors before Melvin fisted a bloop single down the first-base line.

In the top of the 10th inning, Carter Mulcahy and Jace Kovash barreled pitches against Josh Dykhoff, who came in relief for his brother. However, both scorched balls found Bluffton gloves, opening the door for a Braves' walk-off.

"You never want to hang a couple of pitches when you're up in the count like that," Josh Dykhoff said. "When you see those bounces go your way, you know it's the time to make the most of it and win the game."

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Perham's Chance Bye pitches in Bluffton's 5-4 win over Perham in 10 innings on Aug. 6, 2022 at Al Krueger Field in the Region 14C second round.
Jared Rubado / Perham Focus

Wyatt Hamann led off the bottom of the 10th with a double before Cody Geiser bunted him over to third base. Perham elected to intentionally walk the next batter before Rondestvedt drew a two-out walk to load the bases for Josh Dykhoff.

"They guys just battle. They don't give up. They just don't ever give up," Terry Geiser said.

Bluffton and Perham each advanced to the second round in dominating fashion. Perham knocked off Nimrod 20-4 after beating Staples 15-1 in the play-in round on Friday. Bluffton handed Park Rapids a 15-2 loss before the extra-inning thriller.

On Sunday, Perham bounced back to beat Sebeka 6-0 to keep its season alive. Bluffton slipped into the elimination side of the bracket after a 6-3 loss against New York Mills. The Region 14C tournament resumes on Friday in Deer Creek.

"Literally family"

Terry Geiser has seen everything the game of baseball has to offer in his 50 years with the Bluffton townball team. Yet, he still finds the same joy in putting on the uniform a couple of times each week in the summer.

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"You see those kids running around? You go to a Bluffton game at our field, and you see tons of them and their families," he said. "Their families have been doing this for years. I've known most of these guys since they looked like those kids. It's all local, and it's special."

In some communities, townball is a recreational activity for guys trying to squeeze a few more years out of their careers. For people like Josh Dykhoff and Terry Geiser, the Bluffton Braves mean more.

"Everyone on this team means so much to me," Josh Dykhoff said. "We're all family–literally family. It's fun to do it with the people you've grown up with your whole life. We've all watched Terry throughout the years be the face of Bluffton ball, and it's special for me to get to play for him."

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Bluffton's Jake Dykhoff, left and Terry Geiser bump fists in Bluffton's 5-4 win over Perham in 10 innings on Aug. 6, 2022 at Al Krueger Field in the Region 14C second round.
Jared Rubado / Wadena Pioneer Journal

The eight Dykhoff's, Hamann's and Geiser's that played in Buffton's two games on Saturday are all related. For Terry Gieser, who celebrated his 50th anniversary with the team a week before the Region 14C tournament started, baseball comes second to the relationships.

"It's very special because I've known these people since they were born," Terry Geiser said. "I'm related to the Dykhoff and the Hamann families, so it's special to be with these kids. I wouldn't be out here anymore if these kids weren't the good people they are. They're good ballplayers and better people."

Josh Dykhoff is one of the younger rostered players for Bluffton but understands the significance of being a Brave.

"This is something that runs in our family," Josh Dykhoff said. "My grandpa and great uncles all started it up. It's been something you go to and watch ever since you were little. This is in our blood. It's baseball in Bluffton, and it brings our whole family together. You see a lot of families go on vacations and they'll be gone from each other in the summer. Not us. We're together all summer. We don't go many days without seeing each other. Whether it's in the cages or out throwing, we're all together all the time. I wouldn't have it any other way."

The best moments of Geiser's career with Bluffton flow back to one principle: Family.

"I have to tell the truth. It's those guys," said Terry Geiser, getting choked up. "They're all good kids. If they weren't the people they were, and if I didn't have my two boys and my grandson here, I wouldn't be here anymore. I never thought I'd wear this uniform for 50 years. But when you look at all of those guys and all of these people that come out, how can you not keep coming back? It's my family."

Related Topics: BASEBALLWADENAPERHAM
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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