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14C: Millers knock off Pirates with late rally

New York Mills' Mike Baune slides in just under the tag of Perham's Mason Malikowski during the Region 14C playoff game at Krueger Field in Perham. Jason Groth/FOCUS1 / 2
Perham's Eric Hendrickx takes a cut at a pitch against New York Mills during the Region 14C playoffs in Perham. Jason Groth/FOCUS2 / 2

Good things happen when you put the ball in play and that was the case for the New York Mills Millers when they rallied from behind, defeating the Perham Pirates, 8-6, in a Region 14C elimination game in Perham.

Unfortunately for the Pirates, just the opposite happened in the bottom of the eighth inning. After exploding for five runs and taking a 6-4 lead, The Pirates committed three errors, leading to four Miller runs in the fateful inning.

Former Pirate Alec Meyer closed the door in the ninth, striking out the side after a leadoff walk in the ninth.

The eighth inning is one the Pirates will want to forget. A lead off walk to Tyler Patron started the inning and after two quick outs, it appeared the Pirates would leave the inning unscathed. However, an errant throw on a ground ball brought home Patron. An intentional walk to Mike Baune set up a force with runners on first and second. Ethan Hendrickx followed with a slow ground ball, but the throw was errant allowing the tying run to score. Maison Roberts lifted a short fly ball, that was dropped, allowing two more runs to score. In all, the Millers scored four runs on three errors and two walks, one intentional.

Perham was unable to rebound in its half of the ninth. Meyer continued his scoreless streak against his former team. Earlier in the year, he pitched seven scoreless innings against the Pirates. This time, he closed the door for Brandon Kupfer, who earned the run in relief, despite giving up two runs in 2/3 of an inning.

Neither starting pitcher factored in the decision. Tyler Patron went seven and a third, allowing four runs on six hits. He struck out eight on the night. Jack Stigman pitched into the eighth inning. He allowed five runs on six hits, while striking out nine. Jon Schmitz was tagged with the loss. He allowed three unearned runs on no hits. He struck out two in an inning of relief.

Mason Malikowski scoops up the ground ball near second.

It was a tense contest between the two rivals. The Millers held a 2-1 lead heading into the seventh when they used small ball to take a 4-1 lead. Maison Roberts’ suicide squeeze brought home Derik Gaudette, while Taylor Thompson dropped in an RBI single, extending the lead to three.

However, the Pirates responded. Perham answered back with five runs on five hits, taking their first lead of the game. The rally started with a leadoff walk to Josh Still. With one out, Stigman hit a deep drive to left for a double. Gabe Pankonin followed with an RBI single, which was followed by a two-run double down the right field line by Gavin Biegler. J.T. Laughlin followed with an RBI single, giving Perham the lead at 5-4. Eric Hendrickx followed with an RBI ground out, making it 6-4 in favor of Perham.

The Millers answered back for the second time in the tournament. They knocked off Bluffton earlier in the tournament, erasing a late deficit, before winning in extra innings.

Mike Baune finished with two hits for the Millers. Baune started the scoring with an RBI double in the second inning. Taylor Thompson, Brandon Kupfer, Dustin Gaudette and Derik Gaudette had hits for the Millers. Kupfer’s hit was a towering blast over the fence in left field, giving the Millers a 2-1 lead after Perham tied it in the fifth. Kupfer answered with the bomb in the sixth.

Stigman and Dylan Perrine finished with two hits each for the Pirates. Pankonin, Biegler, Laughlin, Hendrickx and Still had hits for the Pirates.

Ethan Hendrickx gets to the high hop at third.

The Millers will now take on the Wadena-Deer Creek Shockers at 3 p.m. at Krueger Field on Aug. 12. The days festivities begin with Midway taking on Detroit Lakes in the winner’s bracket final. The winner of the game earns a trip to the 14C championship and the Class C State Tournament. The loser of the game will return to the field at 6 p.m. to take on the winner of the Wadena-Deer Creek and New York Mills contest. All of the games are scheduled to be played at Krueger Field in Perham.

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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