PERHAM, Minn. – Eric Brauch’s father doesn’t have any interest in watching the Twins play at Target Field, but if his son can make it to the Minnesota Class 2A state baseball championship game, he’ll be the first in line to buy tickets.
By Glen Pursley, Forum News Service
Brauch’s stellar season at the plate and on the mound has led Perham to its first state tournament in nine years. Its last appearance was in 2004, when the Yellowjackets took third place.
“I was talking to my dad and he has never been to Target Field,” Brauch said. “He was just saying how cool it would be (for me) to get there and play. It would be crazy.”
Over the course of the season, Brauch has pitched 37 innings and given up 22 hits. He leads the team in strikeouts with 51, and has a 4-1 record.
He also has a team-high 19 RBIs and has two of the team’s four home runs. Catcher Cameron Mulcahy is second in RBIs with 14, but leads the team with 30 hits.
Brauch is just one of three potential threats the Yellowjackets have on the mound. Mulcahy and Austin Erickson each hold 4-0 records and Josh Still is undefeated with one win. Erickson is second on the team in strikeouts with 34 and has one save.
A struggling offense early on paved the way to an 11-5 regular-season record. But as the playoffs drew closer, the Yellowjackets found out their best was yet to come.
“If I had anything to complain about during the regular season, it is the lack of competitiveness and our lack of having fun,” Perham head coach Hans Hanson said. “We didn’t see a whole lot of consistency, but we hit the playoffs playing our best baseball of the season.
“The only thing that we couldn’t really do was pick up our bats. But ever since the playoffs, we’ve been hitting the ball really well. Hopefully we can continue it into the state tournament.”
The Yellowjackets won the Class 2A, Section 8 tourney with a 5-2 win over Roseau and finished fourth in the conference after a three-way tie for first.
Perham will face Delano in the first round of the state tournament Thursday at 5:30 p.m. and from that moment on, Target Field will be fixated on Brauch’s mind.
“We have our whole community rooting for us, so if we ended up getting to that final game, and ending up on top, I’d be speechless,” Brauch said. “There’s nothing more I want to do my senior year than win this state title.”