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Perham defeats Delano 3-1 in state 2A quarterfinals

Starting pitcher Eric Brauch celebrates the final out of the game in Perham's 3-1 victory over Delano. Photos by Robert Williams/FOCUS1 / 4
Perham has used small ball tactics to win eight straight games heading into Friday's state semifinal. Robert Williams/FOCUS2 / 4
Luke Sailer attempts a throw from second base looking to complete the 6-4-3 double play. Sailer also had one of Perham's four hits in Thursday's win. Robert Williams/FOCUS3 / 4
Griffin Helmeke made this big catch at the warning track to end a Delano third inning threat with runners on 2nd and 3rd base. Robert Williams/FOCUS4 / 4

ST. CLOUD —  Eric Brauch had a pair of two-out RBIs and pitched a complete game in the Perham Yellowjackets’ 3-1 victory over the No. 2-seeded  Delano Tigers in the quarterfinals of the Minnesota Class 2A State baseball tournament at Dick Putz Field Thursday evening.

“Eric wanted to come out here,” Head Coach Hans Hanson said. “I’ve never seen him so focused and ready for a game and it showed. His performance today was outstanding.”

“We’re putting Perham on the map right now,” said Brauch. “I’m not going to lie, we kind of came in scared. Delano has about double the enrollment we have. Coming up with a victory against them; we’re not scared, at all. Our confidence is full right now and we’re going to take it just as hard into our next game.”

Perham never trailed in the game using small-ball tactics to move runners into scoring position in the first and second innings, aided by two beanballs from Tigers’ starter Zach Muckenhirn.

Muckenhirn beaned Josh Still to start the game and he moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Jack Stigman. With two away, Brauch belted a base hit to score Still for the early 1-0 lead.

The teams traded runs in the second inning.

Joey Lindberg was beaned, moved to second on a walk to Luke Sailer with one away. Still walked to load the bases and a Stigman chopper bounced off the glove of Delano first baseman Christian Triplett to allow Lindberg to score from third unearned.

Adam Schleper and Justin Oja led off the Delano second with back-to-back singles and both moved into scoring position when a throw to Stigman at the third base bag got away.

Delano employed small-ball strategy scoring Schleper on a Brett Norling squeeze bunt to cut the Perham lead to 2-1.

Perham scored the final run in the fifth in a similar fashion to their run in the first. Still reached on an error and Stigman put down his second sacrifice bunt to move him over. Brauch laced a two-out double to the right-center gap to score Still and put Perham up 3-1.

Muckenhirn had a game-high 11 strikeouts. He walked two and got stung by two hit batters. Two of the three Perham runs were earned on four hits, two off the bat of Brauch. Stigman and Sailer had Perham’s other hits.

Brauch allowed one earned run on eight hits; he walked one and struck out four pitching to contact inducing fly balls and slow grounders. Brauch kept Tiger batters off balance with a slow breaking ball that confounded Delano hitters.

“Early in the game, we were establishing fastball and then they started hitting me hard,” said Brauch. “We talked to coach and he said, ‘establish the curveball is what you’ve got to do,’ and the curve got them off balance a bit. After that, it was smooth sailing.”

Perham will meet Watertown-Mayer Friday at 2:30 p.m. back at Dick Putz Field. Watertown-Mayer upset the No. 3-seed Minnehaha Academy 1-0.

No. 1 seeded St. Cloud Cathedral will face No. 5 Kasson-Mandorville in the other semifinal. Cathedral defeated Luverne 4-1. Kasson-Mandorville took out No. 4 Hermantown by the same score.

PER 110 010 0 –3 4 0

DEL 010 000 0– 1 8 2

Eric Brauch and CJ Mulcahy. Zach Muckenhirn and Toby Hanson. W–Brauch. L–Muckenhirn.

Robert Williams

Sports Editor at the Detroit Lakes Tribune. Williams worked prior as the Sports Editor in Perham for the Focus, a Forum Communications newspaper, from 2010-14. 

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