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Perham Stingers advance to state

Front row L-R: Calvin Sailer, Joey Lindberg, Mike Thompson, Josh Still. Middle row: Griff Helmeke, Jack Stigman, CJ Mulcahy, Luke Sailer. Back row: JT Laughlin, Eric Brauch, Scott Graham, Jaden Meyer, Brady Sazama.

The Perham VFW Post 4020 Stingers baseball team traveled to Bemidji this past weekend for the District 9 tournament and returned with a state berth.

The Stingers entered the tournament as the #2 seed and knew that as long as they maintained that seeding, they would advance to the state tournament.

As the #2 seed, the Stingers had a bye the first round and faced Thief River Falls in round two.

The Perham team had no problem getting advancing winning 9-0. Eric Brauch pitched four innings of no hit baseball, striking out six, while Brady Sazama and Griff Helmeke completed the game in relief.

Brauch (3 for 3, Grand Slam, Triple and 5 RBI's) and CJ Mulcahy (3 for 3, 3 runs and Hit by Pitch) led the team offensively.

Round three matched the Stingers against defending state champion, Bemidji.

Perham pitcher, Josh Still, pitched a great game allowing just five hits, but the team could not overcome early errors and lost 7-0. The loss put Perham into the elimination bracket to face Detroit Lakes.

Against Detroit Lakes, the Stingers started the bottom of the first inning with two runs after Joey Lindberg reached on a hit by pitch, CJ Mulcahy tripled and Eric Brauch scored Mulcahy with a sac fly.

In the fourth inning, Perham sent 10 batters to the plate scoring six runs. As part of the scoring barrage, Perham used a double steal squeeze play, JT Laughlin put down a perfect bunt, which scored two runs.

The 10-2 victory put Perham in the championship game with Bemidji.

In the title game, Brauch pitched five solid innings allowing just two hits. The Stingers got up early with three runs in the first inning. They scored another three runs in the fourth inning and took a 6-1 lead into the sixth inning.

However, in the sixth the Stingers made several costly mental and physical errors that allowed Bemidji to score six unanswered runs and wrap up a 7-6 victory.

During the awards ceremony, Perham received the second place League and Tournament trophies. The tournament committee and opposing coaches also recognized four Perham players as part of the All-Tournament Team; Eric Brauch, JT Laughlin, Josh Still and CJ Mulcahy.

The team travels back to Bemidji August 11-14 for the state tournament and will open play at 9 a.m. against the District 7 (Minneapolis Area) champion at the North Prep Field.