Dominant pitching gives Perham Mid-State title share
PERHAM — The No. 9-AA Yellowjackets (14-1, 11-1) swept Pequot Lakes in Perham’s final conference games of the season as Josh Still and CJ Mulcahy pitched complete game, three-hit shutouts to earn at least a share of the Mid-State Conference title.
The championship is the second in three years for Perham and the pair of wins make 12 straight for a relaxed and streaking ball club. It’s easy to play loose when the opposing team does not cross the plate.
“It is pitching but everyone is having such a blast,” senior CJ Mulcahy said. “You could have bases loaded and we’re up by two and everybody has a smile on their face. We’re all out here having fun and it seems to be winning some ball games.”
Perham’s one loss on the season was a 9-8 defeat at the hands of Park Rapids in the third game of the season April 25. The Panthers are the only team that can catch Perham in the Mid-State standings. Park Rapids (14-2, 9-1) plays their final two conference games Tuesday, May 20 at last place Crosby-Ironton (1-10, 0-8).
Perham won the first game 2-0 behind Still who threw seven innings, issuing no walks and striking out four. Aside from the three hits allowed, Still faced the minimum of 24 batters retiring the Patriots with ease. Still is 2-0 in four starts this year. The shutout lowered his ERA to 1.17 in 24 innings.
“Everybody’s been throwing well and and hitting well and when people are slumping everybody seems to be picking them up,” Mulcahy said.
Both teams struggled to score in the game. Perham got first inning runs from Mulcahy and Tanner Carlson to put up enough for Still.
Perham was held to six hits, all singles. Mulcahy and Jake Lueders each had two. Mason Malikowski and Austin Erickson were both 1-3; Erickson had the lone RBI.
In the nightcap, Mulcahy flirted with a no-hitter through half a game before being interrupted by an infield single to shortstop.
Mulcahy mirrored Still’s numbers no runs, three hits, four K’s, and did so in five innings thanks to a two-out, bases-empty, four-run rally in the bottom of the fifth to end the game 10-0. Perham scored four times in the first and twice in the second to give Mulcahy all the comfort needed on the scoreboard. Mulcahy faced only 19 Patriot batters in a commanding performance.
Mulcahy's numbers on the hill this year are nearly perfect. Three starts: 3-0, two shutouts, two complete games and a team-best ERA of 0.00. This season, Mulcahy has faced 52 batters, fanned 22 (42 percent), walked five and allowed only six hits.
Mulcahy also led at the plate with a perfect game of 3-3, two doubles, three RBI and a run scored.
Dylan Kruzel got the game-ending hit, a two-RBI single to right field in Perham's last at-bat. Kruzel had three RBI in the game.
Josh Meader and Tanner Carlson scored three times each. Meader had Perham's only other extra-base hit, a double.
The Jackets end the season with three non-conference games at home versus Ottertail Central (9-5) Monday, 4:30 p.m. at Krueger Field, on the road at Frazee (6-7) Tuesday and the season-ending highway 10 kerfuffle with undefeated No. 7A New York Mills (13-0) Thursday, May 22.
Perham has played in control and with the lead much of the season outscoring their opponents 135-34, but have had a few testy moments winning 14 of 15.
“We’ve had four comeback wins against four big teams and even the game we lost to Park Rapids, we were right in there,” said Mulcahy. “We’re always doing it with a smile on our face.”
Perham’s deep talent on the mound and collective knowledge of how to win ball games are highly complimented by a relaxed and confident dugout.
The Yellowjackets are primed and ready to defend the Section 8AA title, unlike last year’s team that scrambled, battled and small-balled their way to the state tournament.
This club came into the season ready for tournament play.