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Yellowjackets nab first place after wacky doubleheader sweep of Park Rapids

If there was such a thing as a Gordie Howe hat trick in baseball, Jesse Hein had one. He parked a home run, got a win on the mound and had two collisions on the base paths. Bob Williams/FOCUS1 / 2
Dylan Ellingson makes a play at second base in a two-game set that saw plenty of plays not made. Bob Williams/FOCUS2 / 2

PERHAM -- The Park Rapids baseball team came to Perham after a split in Staples with a chance to dictate the resulting Mid-State Conference standings after a pair of games with the Yellowjackets.

The Panthers (4-5) left Perham with a sub-.500 conference record after the Yellowjackets swept both games 14-4 and 10-8.

Perham (9-1) now holds a one-game advantage in the conference standings over Staples-Motley (8-2).

Game two was marred by some controversy.

Park Rapids' Head Coach Zach Holsman was shown the exit by umpire Brian Mort in the second inning after arguing a situation with his relief pitcher's warm-up time in the final inning of the first game.

The two had a heated discussion that spilled over into game two.

"It was a crazy night," Perham Head Coach Hans Hanson said. "They were scrappy; they follow their coaches attitude."

Park Rapids took a 1-0 lead in the opening inning and had a chance to escape the bottom half of the first in a 1-1 tie when Eric Brauch hit a sacrifice fly to score Gabe Pankonin.

The Park Rapids defense let starting pitcher Cory Odland down with three critical errors, all up the middle--one at second base, one at short and one in center.

A frustrated Odland lost command and issued five walks before being yanked. He pitched 2/3 of an inning, allowed seven runs, four earned and struck out a batter. He took the loss.

Perham put up seven runs due to the Panther miscues and left the bases loaded.

Drew Bade took the mound in relief and held Perham off the board for two innings. The Jackets stranded the bags full again in the third.

Chris Ruther, Ivan Nodsle, Dylan Ellingson and Ty Haverland filled the bases right back up in Perham's next at-bats and all four came around to score.

Jack Stigman hit a two-RBI single to plate Ellingson and Haverland. Pankonin knocked in Nodsle. Ruther came around on Haverland's base hit in an inning that continued Perham's offensive barrage.

The game was called in the sixth by way of the 10-run mercy rule.

Jesse Hein got the victory for Perham on the hill fanning eight and walking none.

Game two got wackier after Holsman was ejected. Players got into it on the field and fans around the ballpark had their say.

Perham scored five runs in the bottom of the third to erase an early 4-0 deficit.

An error again played in Perham's favor allowing Pankonin to get the rally started on a gaff at third.

Stigman singled, as did Brauch to load up the Perham bases.

Hein ripped a double to bring all three home. Ruther moved Hein to third and stole second base. Luke Sailer walked and again, bases juiced.

Mark Schumacher grounded to third forcing a play at the plate. Hein collided with the Park Rapids catcher but was out on the play.

Brady Sazama hit a two-out single to plate Ruther and Pankonin found himself back at the plate. He hit a grounder to short for an inning-ending fielder's choice, but the throw was wide at second base, all runners safe. The fifth run was on the board. Perham led 5-4.

Perham was not spared from a few errors in the field.

Brauch had three errors in the game; Pankonin and Ruther added a pair each.

"We need to work on making the plays we are supposed to make," Hanson said. "Being more aggressive defensively, continue pitching well and pick up the competitive mind set."

More craziness in the fourth after Hein started the bottom half off with a solo home run.

Ruther singled and stole second, Sailer hit a grounder to shortstop, who booted the ball into the outfield, scoring Ruther.

The game continued in the same vein in the fifth.

Sazama singled; Pankonin singled, Stigman put down a sacrifice bunt, which the pitcher threw down the right field line. Both runners scored. Perham led 9-4 after five.

Park Rapids loaded the bases in the sixth and a play at the plate upended Pankonin in a game that saw plenty of on-field collisions.

To finish the inning, Goplerud hit a come-backer to Stigman on the mound and Goplerud tried to run over Hein at first base.

Hein caught the ball for the out nearly three steps before Goplerud got to the bag. The collision did little to affect all-conference everything Hein.

Both benches were warned and the game finally calmed.

The Panthers put up three runs in the sixth and one in the seventh but it was not enough to avoid the sweep.

Stigman got the win for Perham. Ellingson got the save. David Dirks took the loss for the Panthers.

The Mid-State crown will be decided in Staples Saturday, May 19 with a noon and 2 p.m. doubleheader between the top two teams in the conference.

James Mulcahy contributed to this story.

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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