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Base: 'Jackets and Lakers split conference doubleheader

Perham's Dylan Kruzel delivers to the plate in game two of the Mid-State Conference doubleheader on Thursday in Perham. Jason Groth/FOCUS

Perham-Detroit Lakes and Perham entered Thursday’s Mid-State Conference baseball doubleheader untarnished in conference play.

After two strong pitching performances, one from Detroit Lakes’ Matt Haire and one Perham’s Dylan Kruzel, they both have a conference loss.

Haire shut down the Yellowjackets in game one, earning a complete game, 5-0, victory, while Kruzel allowed two runs in a complete game effort, helping Perham an 8-2 win in game two.

“I’m happy we came back and got a split. Detroit Lakes is a very good ball club,” Perham Head Coach Hans Hanson said. “They came ready to play and hit the ball well the first game. We didn’t pitch well the first game, and didn’t put hits together. I’m happy to see them come back, and get the win in the second game.”

The Lakers’ record moves to 9-2 overall, 9-1 in the Mid-State Conference, while Perham moves to 8-1-1 overall, and 6-1-1 in the Mid-State Conference.

Game 1

Detroit Lakes’ Matt Haire became the first pitcher to pick up a win against Perham during the 2015 baseball season, earning a 5-0 shutout of the Yellowjackets.

“He (Haire) did an outstanding job. We couldn’t get any rhythm at the plate,” Hanson said. “He kept our hitters off balance. We were on our front foot, hitting the ball in the air and they made every play they had to make. Hat is off to him. He threw a heck of a game.”

Haire scattered five hits, while striking out three and walking two batters.

Alec Meyer suffered the loss for Perham, allowing four runs on five hits. He struck out six, walked two and plunked two.

“We made one mistake. and they capitalized,” Hanson said. “They got two runs off of it, and then they hit a two run bomb. That’s good for them.”

Josh Bollig reached on a fielder’s choice after an errant throw on a force attempt at second. Connor Johnson followed with a run scoring double. Cooper Heimark extended the lead to 2-0 with an RBI single.

The two runs were enough for Haire. He settled in on the mound, with only one base runner reaching third.

“He (Haire) threw a lot of strikes and had a good curveball,” Kruzel said. “They are a good team.”

Ryan Cihak added insurance in the fourth, with a two-run home run over the fence in left, making it 4-0 in the fourth.

Sam Beck delivered a two-out, RBI single in the seventh for the final run of the game.

Bollig and Johnson each had two hits, while Cihak drove in two and scored twice. Johnson, Heimark and Beck drove in runs.

Nate Currier, Mason Malikowski, Dylan Perrine, Kruzel and Joe Solberg recorded hits for Perham.

Game 2

TheYellowjackets fell behind in the fourth and fifth innings, yet rallied for an 8-2 win in game two.

“That showed a lot of poise on our part in coming back after losing a game to a very good club,” Hanson said. “Kruzel pitched an outstanding game, got a few hits together. His two-run double and solo home run sparked us. It was an awesome win to split with them; they are a really good team.”

Kruzel earned the complete game win, allowing two runs on six hits. He struck out three, while walking two batters.

“That was huge for us. This is our fourth game, and we needed him to go the distance,” Hanson said. “He did his job, didn’t throw that many pitches and was a leader out there on the hill today.”

Kruzel helped his cause at the plate with three hits, one of them a solo home run.

“Today, I felt more relaxed,” Kruzel said. “I was taking deep breaths and waiting for the pitch. On Tuesday, I was antsy to hit. I told myself to wait back.”

After the Lakers grabbed the lead on a sacrifice fly by Heimark, Kruzel delivered a towering home run to left field, tying the score at one in the fourth.

Ryan Cihak followed with an RBI single in the fifth, putting Detroit Lakes back in the lead.

However, it was short-lived. Perham struck for three runs in the fifth. Chandler Rach singled, and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Chase Curtis. With two outs, the Lakers intentionally walked Malikowski.

Dylan Perrine dropped a short fly ball into right field, allowing Rach to score. Kruzel followed with a double in the gap, scoring two runs and giving the Yellowjackets the lead.

“It was nice to see them execute the small ball, get some movement going and come through,” Hanson said. “We had a little luck on our side, and we will take that.”

The Yellowjackets broke it open in the sixth. Malikowski cleared the bases with a two-run single, the third run scored on a throwing error. Perrine followed with an RBI ground-out, making it 8-2.

Matthew Schouviller suffered the loss. He allowed eight runs in five and 2/3 innings of work on 10 hits. He struck out two and walked two. Matt Bergren faced two batters, walking one.  

Cihak had two hits in the game for Detroit Lakes.

Kruzel finished with three hits, three RBIs and a run scored. Malikowski added two hits, two runs scored and two RBIs. 

Jason Groth

 Groth is a Minnesota Newspaper Association award-winning Sports Editor of the Perham Focus and the Wadena Pioneer Journal. Groth worked in Grand Rapids as the Sports Director at KOZY/KMFY radio for two years and prior to that he was the Sports Editor/Writer for the Grand Rapids Herald-Review for seven years. 

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