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Perham baseball rebounds with walk-off win

The Perham Yellowjackets overcame a costly two run error in the first inning, earning a 3-2 come-from-behind victory over the Fergus Falls Otters on May 5 at Krueger Field in Perham.

Jace Kovash finished with three hits, while Matt Benke provided a solid effort on the mound, earning the complete game win.

“Benke did great and we did really well on the field,” Kovash said. “We stepped it up from yesterday and got a lot of hits out there.”

It was a strong bounceback performance after the Yellowjackets laid an egg in a doubleheader with the Hawley Nuggets. They were able earn a split against Hawley, dropping game one, 4-0, before rallying in game two, winning 6-5.

“It says a lot about overcoming adversity especially after yesterday when we struggled to hit the ball,” Kovash said. “We came back, hit the ball and out-hit the other team.”

Benke gave the Yellowjackets a strong performance on the hill, taking command of the game and recovering after a tough break in the first inning. Kovash knew Benke was throwing hard and was on from the first pitch.

“He had a lot of control,” Kovash said. “He did hit a couple of guys, but as the game went on he just got better. When he hits that zone, I just put out my glove and he throws it right to it. When he is in a zone, it’s hard to hit him.”

Some of Benke’s troublesome innings were because of his own doing, yet he was able to battle out of it with strong defense. Benke was effectively wild for the most part. He three and hit three batters, while striking out four and yielding just three hits. When he needed to get out of a jam, his defense came up with a key play, or Benke got a timely strikeout.

“He was able to battle and we made some clutch plays when we needed to help us get out of some tough situations,” Kovash said.

Ryan Beck’s pop fly was mishandled at short in the first inning led to a pair of runs for the Otters. It would be the only time the Otters could push a run across, despite chances to break the game open.

Benke worked out of a jam in the second when he Adam Swanson out at home following a wild pitch and recorded a strikeout to end the inning. He worked around a one-out double in the third and left a pair of runners on base in the fifth and sixth innings. He worked a perfect seventh and eighth innings as well.

The Yellowjackets got their first run in the third inning when Kovash led things off with a single. It was his second of three hits on the afternoon. He reached base four times and said he was seeing the ball well at the plate.

“The ball just looked good today,” Kovash said. “Their pitcher was pretty good, but it just looked good today.”

Benke hit a shot that was mishandled in left, allowing Kovash to score Perham’s first run in the second.

Kovash played a role in the second run of the game as well. Ty Moser led the inning off with a walk and moved into scoring position with a stolen base. Kovash, who was primarily pulling the ball, took the ball the other way for a double into left centerfield, scoring Moser, evening the game at two.

The Yellowjackets picked up the win in the eighth inning when Josh Jeziorski singled and scored. Elias Hoffman moved him into scoring position with a bunt and Ryan Kalina brought him home with a hard hit ground ball that took a tough hop off the second baseman’s glove, allowing Jeziorski to sprint home.

Adam Swanson was the tough luck loser on the mound for Fergus Falls. He allowed three runs in seven plus innings of work. He struck out five, while walking three, two of them intentional. He hit one batter and gave up seven hits.

Jeziorski, Hoffman, Roo Schmitz and Zach Peterson picked up hits in the win for Perham.

Hawley 4

Perham 0

The Yellowjackets struggled to get on track in game one against the Hawley Nuggets, picking up just two hits on their way to a 4-0 loss on May 4.

Drew Thompson shut down the Yellowjackets, earning the complete game victory. He struck out eight. Jeziorski and Moser were the only ones to connect for a pair of hits against Thompson in the loss.

Hawley took control with a pair of runs in the third and the fifth innings. Roo Schmitz took the loss, throwing four innings and allowing four earned runs.

Hawley 5

Perham 6

The Yellowjackets rallied from behind, salvaging a split of their Heart O’Lakes Conference doubleheader with the Nuggets in Hawley.

After digging themselves into a 4-0 hole, the Yellowjackets rallied for a five-run third inning and eventually broke a 5-5 tie in the fifth with a run.

Nick Lindberg earned the win for the Yellowjackets. He allowed five runs, while striking out seven batters and walking just one.

Lindberg helped himself at the plate with a pair of doubles and a run scored. Kovash added two hits, including a double, and a pair of runs. Roo Schmitz added two hits and an RBI.

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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