The Silver Pirates had a successful weekend at the Senior Baseball State Tournament but it was costly as they lost Jon Kotaska for the balance of the tourney with a ruptured achilles tendon.
There are 32-teams in the tournament--the top seeded 16 teams are broken down between Class AA and Class A based on the first game of competition.
If you win your first round game you move into an 8-team bracket for Class AA, if you lose your first round game you move into an 8 team bracket for Class A. The first round game is a play-in game to determine your Class.
The seeding is based on the team's placement in their league and results of competition against teams throughout the state.
The Silver Pirates were the number nine seed so they were in the top 16 teams along with Carlos, Menahga-Sebeka and Fort Ripley from the Northwest League. All four Northwest League teams lost their first round games on Saturday, which put them all in the Class A bracket.
Perham lost a heartbreaker on Saturday to the Jordan Millers in Jordan, as they had scoring threats in every inning except the third but timely hits were hard to come by.
The Silver Pirates drew first blood with a run in the second inning as Kotaska led off with a double to deep center and scored on a two out single by Gary Grewe.
The lead was short lived as Jordan came up with two runs in the bottom of the third inning on a walk sandwiched between two singles.
Perham came back to tie the game in the top of the fifth inning as Terry Haus led off with a solid single to left. Jim Nelson and Chad Griffin followed up with singles to load the bases with nobody out. Jason McClellan lofted a fly ball to center scoring Haus but Nelson and Griffin were stranded as Kotaska and Ray Sailer popped out to first and the pitcher respectively.
With the game tied at two entering the last inning, it seemed the Pirates would put the game away in the top of the seventh as McClellan laced a one out single - Kotaska followed with his second hit of the day and Sailer walked to load the bases. Robb Litzau hit a smash up the middle but the shortstop had been sneaking behind Kotaska for a possible pick off and he was able to snare Litzau's hot smash, step on second and fire to first for a double play and the Pirate threat was ended.
Not only was the Pirate threat ended but also Kotaska's tournament came to an end as he was coming into third on the play - he ruptured his achilles tendon.
Kotaska had been a workhorse on the mound and in the field all season long for the Pirates and he will be sorely missed as the Pirates continue play this weekend.
Greg Schmid came in relief of Kotaska in the bottom of the seventh and was the victim of a single by the leadoff hitter for Jordan, a sacrifice and a couple of misplays as the Jordan Millers got the walk off victory 3-2.
The Silver Pirates played a good game as they had 11 hits to the Millers five but they weren't able to get the timely hits to chase runners across the plate as they left 15 runners stranded.
The Web Gem, unfortunately goes to the Miller shortstop on his big play in the top of the seventh inning.
Player of the game goes to Kotaska as he was 2 for 4 at the plate and pitched six solid innings giving up two runs on four hits with three walks and six strikeouts.
In the opening round of Class A competition Perham traveled to Union Hill to take on Faribault (Faribault was defeated by the top seed Prior Lake 2-0 in the play-in game.
Perham got the timely hits in the quarterfinals against Faribault and they came early as the Pirates got off to a 2-0 lead in the first.
Grewe got the Pirates started with a one out single. Ron Litzau followed up with a double to the fence in right. Griffin put the Pirates on the board with a two-out single to score Grewe and Litzau and the Pirates were off and running.
Faribault made the score 2-1 as they scored a lone run in the second on a walk and error and a single.
Perham answered with a run of their own in the third. Ron Litzau and Haus singled but Haus was forced at second on a Griffin grounder to short. Litzau scored as Nelson lofted a fly ball to left and the Pirates were up by two.
Faribault wouldn't go away as they came back with a run in the fourth and made it a 3-2 game.
Perham got on the board again in the fifth as Ron Litzau walked, promptly stole second and came home on a two out single by Nelson.
Faribault pulled with-in one again in the bottom of the fifth as their leadoff hitter singled, stole second and moved to third on a great catch by first baseman Haus. Haus grabbed a pop-up in foul territory just before slamming into the fence.
Griffin got the next out as he picked up a ground ball from his third base position but Faribault got their run on a passed ball.
Perham put the game away with five big runs in the sixth inning. Rob Litzau got things started with a single to left. Tony Stoll kept it going with a perfect bunt down the first base line for another single. Ron Litzau came up with one out as Robb Litzau and Stoll were camped on third and second.
Litzau had been scorching the ball as he was 2 for 2 at this point so Faribault decided to give him an intentional pass to load the bases. Haus made them pay as he promptly nailed a line drive to right chasing Rob Litzau and Stoll home. Griffin than drove a triple to the fence in center scoring Litzau and Haus. Griffin became the fifth run of the inning as the pitcher let one fly to the fence behind the plate.
Griffin came into the game in relief of Greg Schmid and closed the door on Faribault striking out five of the six batters he faced.
Perham had a 9-3 win and moves on to the semi-finals of Class A this Friday, Aug. 26.
Haus gets both of the Web Gems on a pair of pop ups as he made nifty plays in both the third and fifth innings.
Players of the game:The 3, 4, 5 and 6 hitters for Perham demolished Faribault as Ron Litzau was 2 for 2, 4 runs scored a double, two walks and a stolen base. Haus was 2 for 4 with a run scored and 2 RBI. Griffin was 2 for 4, a run scored, 4 RBI a triple and a stolen base. Nelson was 1 for 3 with 3 RBI.
Stole, Grewe, Sheets and Rob Litzau each chipped in a hit.
Special note for this game: Steve Sheets (playing in his last game as a Silver Pirate) was honored by his teammates in a brief ceremony at the conclusion of the game as manager Ron Litzau presented Sheets with the game ball and thanked him for his 13 years of dedication to the Silver boys.
The Silver Pirates will face a familiar foe in the semi-finals of Class A as they take on league foe, Menahga-Sebeka.
The Pirates are 1-4 against Relics this season. The game will be played in Union Hill at 8:30 p.m. this Friday evening. Should the Pirates move to the championship game, they would play Saturday, Aug. 27 in Union Hill at 5 p.m.