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Baseball: Otters oust Yellowjackets from Section 8AA playoffs

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CROOKSTON -- Fergus Falls' starter Pete Gaustad hurled a one-hitter to eliminate the Perham Yellowjackets from the Section 8AA baseball playoffs.

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Gaustad struck out 15 Perham batters. Jesse Hein took the loss for Perham in his final game as a Yellowjacket.

Including Hein, eight senior Yellowjackets hung up their high school cleats for the final time: Ivan Nodsle, Garret Biegler, Mark Schumacher, Chris Ruther, Gabe Pankonin, Dylan Ellingson and Ty Haverland.

A walk to Nodsle with the bases loaded in the first inning scored Pankonin from third base for Perham's only run. Ruther got the lone hit in the game for Perham.

The game-winner came off the bat of Otter Reece Johnson. Johnson tripled in the top of the third with the bases full of Otters to put Fergus Falls up for good 3-1.

Perham loaded the bases again in the sixth inning still down only two runs, but Gaustad fanned Nodsle, Ruther and Luke Sailer to end the threat.

Fergus Falls added an insurance run in the seventh.

The Otters did not fare well in the championship game as Roseau took advantage of a beleaguered Otter pitching staff to win the Section 8AA title handily by a score of 11-0.

Ben Vatnsdal pitched a two-hitter.

The win snapped Fergus Falls' run of three consecutive section titles. Roseau (20-5) will make its first trip since 2006 to the state tournament, which begins next Thursday in St. Cloud.

Roseau had scored four or fewer runs in four of Vatnsdal's previous five starts this season. "Ben's been our tough-luck pitcher,'' Roseau coach Tracey Wensloff said. "When we score five runs, we usually win. Today, he wasn't the tough-luck guy.''

Instead, Roseau gave Vatnsdal a quick lead with three runs in the bottom of the first.

Leadoff hitter Alex Strand singled on a slow roller to shortstop and scored when Justin Anderson bounced a double off the fence in left-center field. Alex Ziegler and Jeremy Markstrom added run-scoring singles in the inning.

"It's awesome to get runs like that,'' Vatnsdal said. "It's easier to pitch when you're ahead and you're not biting your fingernails all through the game.

"But I wasn't expecting 11 runs, that's for sure. It's a section championship; normally those games are closer.''

Wensloff said Anderson may have had the key one of the 13 Roseau hits.

"He pounded that double,'' Wensloff said. "We haven't hit many balls like that one in our last few games. That might have set the tone for us. I think that gave us confidence.

"And (losing pitcher Austin Hanson) was primarily throwing fastballs. We usually do well against fastball pitchers.''

The scored remained 3-0 until the fourth. Roseau sent 13 batters to the plate in that inning, scoring eight runs on six hits while taking advantage of three Otters errors and two walks.

"You get to this spot and you hope you can play a little better,'' said Fergus Falls coach Mark Aho, whose team advanced to the final with a 4-1 loser-out win against Perham. "But Roseau got the hits when they needed them.''

Strand and Anderson had three hits each to lead the Rams' 13-hit attack.

Vatnsdal, meanwhile, allowed just two hits -- doubles by Pete Gaustad in the first inning and Abbot Aho in the third. He struck out only three batters, but got seven ground-ball outs, included the final out of the game on a comebacker to the mound.

"Ben was in the zone, throwing strikes on the corners,'' Wensloff said. "He threw very few pitches right down the middle. He doesn't have an overpowering fastball, but he moves his pitches around and mixes things up.

"We got outstanding pitching efforts Tuesday by Logan (Hulst) and Justin. Ben followed that up by putting the frosting on the cake.''

Minn. Section 8AA

In Crookston, Thursday

Championship

ROSEAU 11,

FERGUS FALLS 0

Fergus Falls 000 00 --0 2 3

Roseau 300 8X --11 13 0

WP -- Ben Vatnsdal; LP - Austin Hanson

Highlights -- FF: Abbot Aho 1x2, 2B; Pete Gaustad 1x2, 2B; R: Alex Strand 3x3, 2B, 2R; Justin Anderson 3x4, 2B, 2R, 2 RBI; Alex Ziegler 2x3; Jeremy Markstrom 2x3, 2B, 1R, 2 RBI

Elimination game

FERGUS FALLS 4,

PERHAM 1

Fergus Falls 003 000 1 -- 4 5 2

Perham 100 000 0 -- 1 1 2

WP -- Pete Gaustad; LP - Jesse Hein

Highlights -- FF: Gaustad 15 Ks, 2-4, 2B; Reece Johnson 1-3, 3B; P: Chris Ruther 1-3

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