6-4 Jackets head into telling conference schedule
A game of nearly equal numbers from both teams came down to last at-bats in extra innings and Austin Erickson and Perham pulled out an 8-7 victory in eight innings to improve to 3-2 on the season in baseball action here Monday.
Erickson has made a name for himself quickly this season flirting with a no-hitter last week and getting the game-winning hit against the Hornets Monday night. Erickson belted a base hit to score Eric Brauch from third for the victory.
Both starting pitchers, Jack Stigman for Perham and Grant Overland for Frazee, allowed four runs in a no-decision for both. Griffin Helmeke pitched a scoreless inning of relief before giving way to Josh Still, who earned the Yellowjacket victory with three innings of work. Still allowed two hits, fanned three and issued no bases on balls.
Tyler Wacker took the loss for Frazee. He allowed three runs, none earned on five hits and four walks. He struck out six Yellowjackets.
Each team scored one run in the third inning. Perham jumped out to a 6-1 lead with a five-run fourth, only to be answered immediately in the top of the fifth with a five-run inning from the Hornets. Both teams had 10 hits.
Brauch led Perham going2-5, knocking in three runs and scoring twice. Both Joey Lindberg and Erickson were 2-5 with a stolen base. Still had the game-winning RBI; Lindberg added a pair.
Jordan Ketter was 3-5 to lead Frazee. Erik Moltzan was the only other Frazee batter with more than one hit. He was 2-4, with a run scored and one RBI.
The Yellowjackets have played .500 ball in the conference and through six games have managed to escape sweeps by taking the nightcap of three doubleheaders.
The third split came on the road at Park Rapids. The Panthers opened up the double dip with a 4-1 victory. Perham answered with a 15-9 win.
At 3-3, Perham has half of their Mid-State season remaining and they know what they have to do to retain their title for a third year in a row.
They will have to catch the Staples-Motley Cardinals.
Perham won the conference last year by a three-game margin over Staples-Motley and clinched the title on the Cardinals’ home field.
Given the scheduling anomalies created by this year’s weather pattern, Staples-Motley has already completed their six conference doubleheaders and have put a mark of 9-3 up for the rest of the conference to chase.
Detroit Lakes has a shot at the title with a mark of 8-2 and one final doubleheader to be played against Park Rapids at home May 21.
The Lakers are currently fractions of winning percentage points ahead of Staples-Motley in the standings.
As is Park Rapids, with a mark of 6-2 and a pair of games versus 2-4 Wadena-Deer Creek and what could be a title doubleheader against Detroit Lakes.
Perham needs to win out in their remaining three Mid-State game days to have a shot at the conference crown.
Two of Perham’s upcoming foes are winless in the conference. Pequot Lakes is 0-6. Crosby-Ironton is 0-8. The contending teams have had their way with the Patriots and Rangers and both teams come up on the schedule just in time for the Yellowjackets to make a move.
Perham will end conference play against Wadena-Deer Creek leaving the bottom three teams in the conference in pecking order for the defending champions.
What Perham has shown in the three splits is when their backs are against the wall and they need a win, the bats come alive, as does the defense and pitching.
This bodes well come playoff time when games turn to win or go home.
If they can harnass that energy for the opening games in the coming weeks there may be a mess at the top of the standings in the conference. A four-way tie at 9-3 is not too far fetched of an idea.
The biggest games to watch without Yellowjackets on the field will be the doubleheader between the two-loss Lakers and Panthers in DL May 21.
A split of that series would set the table for a three-way tie atop the standings with Staples-Motley, leaving Perham the opportunity to run the table and claim a tie for the conference title, but more importantly, their third straight season finish atop the Mid-State.
Perham’s trend of splitting doubleheaders continued Tuesday with a non-conference match-up with East Grand Forks. Perham won the opener 13-4 and fell in the nightcap 5-4.
Eric Brauch gave up four first-inning runs but shut the door the rest of the way as the Yellowjackets’ offense came alive for 13 runs.
East Grand Forks Senior High rebounded for a 5-4 win. Tyler Olson picked up the win for Senior High, while Dallas Dragich went 2-for-2 for the Wave, who improved to 3-6. Perham is 6-4.