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Baseball: Perham streaks into Section 8AA semis

Austin Erickson was in complete command of Park Rapids batters in a 6-1 victory Saturday. Robert Williams/FOCUS

PERHAM — The Perham Yellowjackets extended their longest winning streak of the year to five games and moved on to the Section 8AA baseball playoff semifinals after back-to-back defeats of conference foes Park Rapids and Detroit Lakes Saturday.

Perham defeated Park Rapids 6-1 and Detroit Lakes 4-1 behind complete game pitching victories by Austin Erickson and Eric Brauch in chilly and windy conditions.

“We had great defense and played as a team,” Erickson said. “A lot more intensity than at the beginning of the year. It was a little sketchy at times. There’s a little bit of pressure but I knew I’d pull through.”

During regular season play, the Yellowjackets suffered a habit of spitting conference doubleheaders and put together two three-game win streaks. Consistent pitching and allowing only two runs in three playoff games, including the playoff opening no-hitter by CJ Mulcahy and Josh Still, combined with timely hitting and run production has propelled Perham at just the right time of the year.

Park Rapids stayed alive in the double-elimination tournament by knocking Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton out of the playoffs with an 8-5 win at Matt’s Field Saturday. Detroit Lakes moves on in the elimination bracket as well, as the tournament switches venues to Crookston with play beginning Tuesday, June 4.

Perham never trailed in both of Saturday’s victories. Brauch knocked in the game-winner on a third inning two-RBI triple laced to right field which scored Jack Stigman and Mulcahy. Park Rapids scored their only run of the game in the bottom of the fourth.

Mulcahy scored again in the fifth and Perham added insurance runs in the sixth on a Stigman two-RBI single that scored Erickson and and Joey Lindberg for a 5-1 lead. JT Laughlin scored in the seventh on a Lindberg sacrifice fly to right.

Erickson held the Panthers to one run,  unearned, on only two hits improving his record to 4-0 and keeping his ERA under two. Erickson struck out six taking care of two innings himself.

Perham took advantage of DL’s start AJ Matter’s lack of control and chased the Laker lefty after one-third of an inning scoring three times. Mulcahy singled in leadoff hitter Josh Still and Mulcahy scored the eventual game winner on a two-RBI double by Laughlin.

Nick Groth scored on a Richie Grossman single in the bottom half of the first for DL’s only run. Still scored again in the fourth for eventual final score of 4-1. Perham loaded the bases in the seventh but Ryan Cihak fanned Joe Solberg to end the threat.

Cihak pitched an impressive 6.2 innings of relief allowing just the one run to Perham, unearned.

Brauch cruised on the hill for the Jackets. A DL baserunner never touched third base after the first inning. Brauch struck out nine batters, issued two walks in seven innings on the hill to improve to 3-2 on the season.

Mulcahy was 3-4 with three singles and two RBIs. Laughlin was 1-3 with a pair of RBIs.

Perham (14-5) will play play Roseau (12-8) Tuesday at 4:30 p.m. in Crookston. The Rams defeated Crookston 6-4 on the Pirates home field. The winner will advance to the Section 8AA final where they will need to win one of two games to advance to the state tournament.

DL plays Thief River Falls and Park Rapids faces Crookston in elimination games.

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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