By John George
The Dent Wildcats found out just how hard it is to beat a team five times in a row. In a single season, no less.
The 'Cats, who finished second in the Countryside League regular season and first in the league playoffs, went 1-2 in the Region 16C Tournament last weekend. After a big win and a close loss, Dent was eliminated by Fergus Falls, a team the 'Cats had beaten four times this season.
Dent opened the 16C Tournament in Pelican Rapids Saturday morning with a 10-1 win over the Red Eye Country Boys. Garrett Dahlgren, a draftee from Vergas, pitched nine strong innings for Dent. He struck out nine while allowing seven hits, one walk and just one unearned run in the first inning.
The 'Cats got on the board in the second on a two-run single by Isaac Stoll. They added two more in the fifth on RBI hits by Steve Branby and Mac Stoll. After another RBI single by Ryan Hendrickson in the seventh, Dent secured the win with five runs in the eighth.
Three of those eighth inning runs came in on a three-run homer by Branby. he finished the game going 3-for-5 with three runs scored and four RBI. Matt Richter, Jeff Ronning and Mac Stoll each had two hits for Dent.
In the second round Saturday afternoon in Perham, Dent took on the Lake and Pine North's top team, the Wolf Lake Wolf Pack.
The Pack scored four in the first inning on a grand slam, then waited until the bottom of the ninth to win the game, 5-4, on a throwing error.
After falling behind early, Dent chipped away at the Wolf Lake lead. They started with a three-run second. Hendrickson doubled to score Branby and Adam Johnson, and later scored on a single by Richter.
The 'Cats tied the game in the fifth when Brock Collins scored on an infield hit by Johnson. Dent left runners on in the seventh, eighth and ninth innings, but couldn't get the potential go-ahead run across the plate.
Richter had four hits to lead the Wildcats. Johnson, a draftee from Pelican Rapids, added three. Brandon Fritz went seven innings on the mound for Dent and took the loss after relieving Collins in the second inning.
Facing elimination in the consolation bracket, Dent faced Countryside rival, Fergus Falls, Sunday afternoon in Perham. After falling four times to the 'Cats this summer, Fergus Falls got their revenge and stayed alive in the 16C Tournament with a 13-6 win.
Dent fell behind early as the Hurricanes scored runs in the first and third innings for a 4-0 lead. The Wildcats cut into that lead with a three-run third. Ronning started the scoring with an RBI single, scoring Richter. Branby later added a two-run single, scoring Fritz and Ronning.
The 'Canes added to their lead with single runs in the fifth and sixth to go up 6-3, but Dent once again cut the lead to one run in the bottom of the sixth. Mac Stoll scored on a fielders choice and Collins added a RBI single, scoring Hendrickson.
But it was all Fergus Falls after that, as the 'Canes put up four runs in the seventh and followed that with two more in the eighth and one insurance run in the ninth.
Dent's final run came in the eighth on a RBI single by Collins, scoring Mac Stoll.
Fergus Falls is the only remaining Countryside League team alive in the 16C playoffs. They will take on the Midway Snurdbirds on Friday, Aug. 14 at 8 p.m. in Perham. The loser is out, while the winner will advance to face Wolf Lake on Aug. 15 in Perham at 5 p.m. The winner of Saturday's game will secure a State berth and move on to the 16C Championship.
Brandon-Evansville, the top team from the Resorters West, has already secured a spot in the 16C Championship and a berth in the State Tournament. They await to play in the championship game on Sunday, Aug. 16 in Perham at 1:30 p.m.