VFW: Strong pitching leads Stingers to semifinals
PERHAM — Strong starting pitching has propelled the Perham Stingers to consecutive victories to advance to the championship semifinals of the VFW District 9 baseball tournament.
Perham, seeded fourth, opened the tournament with a 12-0 shutout of No. 5 Thief River Falls on the back of a complete game (five-inning mercy-rule) two-hit shutout by Dylan Kruzel Thursday afternoon. Kruzel cruised through the Thief River Falls lineup striking out eight batters, while issuing one walk.
Top-seeded East Grand Forks awaited after receiving a first round bye and Alec Meyer got a complete game victory in a 4-2 Perham upset Friday. Meyer fanned seven, walked seven and did not allow a hit until the fourth inning.
East Grand Forks had a number of scoring opportunities but the Perham defense managed to aid Meyer in wiggling out of jams, the most threatening coming in the bottom of the seventh.
Meyer took the hill with a 4-0 lead but East Grand loaded the bases with two out. Tarron Baker hit a two RBI single to cut the Perham lead in half.
A pop-up behind the mound appeared to be the final out but a collision between Meyer and first baseman Joe Solberg popped the ball loose keeping East Grand Forks alive.
The game ended in the glove of Perham catcher Dylan Perrine on a foul pop two pitches later.
Perrine had the game-winning hit with a two-out double in the top of the sixth scoring Chase Curtis and Mathew Benke. Benke and Curtis started the two-out rally on Benke’s single and Curtis reaching base on balls. Perrine’s hit also chased starter Donnie Musgrove, who took the loss in five and two-thirds innings of work.
Perham took an early 1-0 lead in their first at-bats and added the second run in the top fo the fifth when Nathan Currier scored from second base on a single by Mason Malikowski. The inning ended on what looked to be a 6-4-3 double play but wound up a 6-4-3-2 when the relay to first got away but Chandler Rach was gunned down at the plate.
Perham’s semifinal game will be back at Kreuger Field tomorrow, Saturday, July 27 at 11 a.m. against Fergus Falls. Fergus Falls advanced with an opening 11-1 victory over Detroit Lakes and a 9-5 win over No. 2 Bemidji. Perham and Fergus Falls victories have sent both the top seeds to the loser’s bracket with tournament records of 0-1.
UPDATE: Bemidji defeated Thief River Falls in a wild seventh inning. Thief River Falls scored six times in the top of the seventh to tie the score at nine before Bemidji sealed the game with a run in the bottom half. A missed bunt on a squeeze attempt foiled Bemidji's first attempt at the win before a bases-loaded single took care of business. Bemidji will play East Grand Forks Saturday at 1:30 p.m. East Grand eliminated Detroit Lakes 9-4.