VFW: Stingers advance to championship game
PERHAM — The Perham Stingers have proven in three playoff games they can find a way to win in a variety of ways. No. 4 Perham pulled off a second upset in a row defeating No. 3 Fergus Falls 10-7 to advance to the championship finals of the VFW District 9 tournament.
The two teams will meet again in the final, as Fergus Falls blew out East Grand Forks 19-4 to advance out of the loser's bracket. East Grand Forks had eliminated Bemidji 16-6 earlier in the day.
Perham scored in five of seven innings to defeat Fergus Falls Saturday afternoon.
Dylan Perrine doubled to score Mathew Benke in the second and an early 1-0 lead. The RBI was the first of three for Perrine to lead the team.
Alex Tostenson scored as a courtesy runner for starting pitcher Joe Solberg on a Patrick Murphy single in the third to put Perham up 2-0. Tostenson scored three times in the courtesy role as Solberg led Perham in hitting going 3-3 with one RBI on two doubles and a single.
Fergus Falls scored four times in the bottom of the fourth for their only lead of the game 4-2. No. 9 hitter Logan Stocks hit a double to clear loaded bases for the big hit of the inning. Shane Neumann knocked in Josh Hanson on a fielder’s choice for the first Fergus Falls run.
The lead did not last long as Perham answered with four runs of their own in the top of the fifth. Dylan Kruzel and Solberg hit back-to-back doubles, Kruzel scoring on Solberg’s hit to cut the lead to 4-3. Solberg tied the game on a wild pitch.
Solberg’s double chased starter Jake Lee. Zach Thunselle struggled in relief walking three batters and hitting one allowing two runs and the never pleasant ERA of infinity as he was pulled without producing an out. Jared Christenson replaced Thunselle and finished the game for Fergus Falls, ultimately, taking the loss.
Perham led 6-4 after a lengthy fifth inning that saw the Stingers bat around.
The Stingers added two more runs in the sixth. Tostenston scored on a walk to Perrine with the bases loaded. Alec Meyer scored in the same scenario on a walk to Nathan Currier. Currier had two RBIs both by bases on balls. He walked three times in the game.
Stocks and Thunselle scored in the sixth for Fergus Falls to cut Perham’s lead to 8-6 with an inning to play.
Perham loaded the bases for the third consecutive inning and Mason Malikowski scored on a wild pitch followed by Kruzel, who scored on a Benke 6-3 fielder’s choice for runs nine and 10.
Up 10-6, Murphy came in to close Fergus out. Murphy retired Alex Hexum for the first out. Ryan Aarhus singled but was out on at second base on a hit to second base by Neumann.
Jake Lee reached on an error and Stocks walked to load the bases with two away bringing Thunselle to the plate as the tying run.
Thunselle flied out to left field for the final out.
Solberg pitched six innings for the victory allowing all seven runs, four earned. He struck out one batter, walked two, and managed to survive six Stinger errors. Murphy picked up the save with an inning of work. He struck out one, walked one and pitched around Perham’s seventh error in the game.
Kruzel and Perrine had two hits to complement three from Solberg. Malikowski and Murphy each had a single.
The championship game(s) with Fergus Falls are scheduled to begin Sunday at noon. The nightcap of the doubleheader, if necessary, will be played at 2 p.m.