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Commentary: Bertha wins second straight Hi-10 playoff title in a league that has issues

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BERTHA — The Bertha Blazers continued a five-year streak of making the Hi-10 playoff championship game and won their third title in that span defeating the Perham Pirates 11-0 in seven innings.

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The Pirates had six errors to just three hits in the loss.

The title was the second consecutive championship for Bertha. The Blazers defeated Detroit Lakes in 2012. Bertha also won in 2010 over Wadena-Deer Creek. The Blazers have been dominant in the last half decade and more so in this year's bracket - going undefeated.

However, three other league teams will join Bertha in the Region 14C tournament, including three teams that have lost two playoff games already.

Perham and Bluffton finished the Hi-10 bracket 3-2.

Perham lost both their games to Bertha by a combined score of 24-3.

Bluffton lost their opening round game to Detroit Lakes 5-1, before reeling off three straight wins. Well, two wins, as the first was a forfeit by Lake Park-Audubon. Perham knocked Bluffton out 7-3.

The fourth team to move on is Detroit Lakes with a 2-2 playoff record. DL defeated Bluffton 5-1 and eliminated Wadena-Deer Creek 3-2. The Angels lost to Bertha 10-4 and were knocked out by Bluffton 6-3.

Perhaps a restructuring of the amateur baseball playoff format is in order. If all it takes is two wins to advance to Regions against two losses, how low must the players from New York Mills and Wadena-Deer Creek feel?

At least both teams can look at Lake Park-Audubon and Henning, neither team could field an entire lineup and went 0-2 with two forfeits to kick the opening day of tournament play in the gut negating two of the four scheduled games and making the first round of double elimination meaningless.

The Blazers are obviously a dominant force in the Hi-10. Only the Angels took Bertha to a full nine innings in the Hi-10 playoffs. Perham, who had a better record than Bertha and were the Hi-10 West league champions were ten-runned by the champs from Hi-10 East twice on consecutive playoff Sundays.

Bertha finished regular season play 11-4. Perham was a half-game better finishing 11-3.

Three of Bertha’s four losses in the regular season were to Countryside League teams: Vergas, Dent and Fergus Falls. Perham’s three defeats were to Vergas, Fergus Falls and Detroit Lakes.

The one saving grace denoting some fallibility in the Blazers was a 1-0 loss to Perham July 7.

Without that game and loss having occurred, the whole of the Hi-10 bracket could have been a race to see which two teams fail to advance to Regions but are better than the forfeiters.

Given some of the final scores from the Henning Giants, forfeits were better than a number of their regular season games.

In a small bit of irony with a dash of numerical synchronicity, Henning opened their season against Bertha May 27. Final score: 27-0. The Giants should have forfeited. It would have looked better. Fergus Falls laid a 26-0 wallop on the Giants to kick off June on the first day of the month. Perham put up 26 in a game called after five innings with the score 26-2.

Lake Park-Audubon’s record is hardly any better. The team lost four games in regulation nine innings, were mercy-ruled four times, and got their only win over Frazee 9-8.

Frazee was 2-14 on the season, besting only Breckenridge in the Countryside standings. Breckenridge folded early in the season. Frazee’s two wins came against Breckenridge by way of forfeit and over Henning 13-5 on July 12.

Henning was scheduled to play Lake Park-Audubon July 12. By forfeiting to the Giants, the Xpress gave Henning half of their wins. The game could have been decided by player attendance on a neutral field. First team to field nine humans wins.

It is difficult to take the Hi-10 League seriously when the players do not bother to even show up. The Countryside League had their own difficulties failing miserably with the temporary addition and retraction of Breckenridge. The top four Countryside teams combined for 51 wins. The bottom two teams combined for 31 losses inflating the records of teams in both leagues except for Frazee, who lost 23-0 to Breckenridge May 5. What?!

The Region 14C playoffs will begin Friday, Aug. 2. All games are scheduled for first pitch at 8 p.m.

Perham plays Clarissa in New York Mills. Nimrod plays Bluffton in Menahga. Bertha plays Staples in Perham and Carlos will host Detroit Lakes.

The Region tournament is also double elimination and the runner-up advances to the state tournament. Essentially, that means a team that loses four times in the playoffs advances to state.

There is something wrong with that scenario.

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Robert Williams
Robert has been the Sports Editor for the Focus since 2010 covering multiple state and national championship teams and is a mainstay at state tournaments each season covering the successful, athletic programs of Perham and New York Mills High Schools.
(218) 346-5900 x223
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