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Nuggets complete two-game sweep for 8AA championship

The Hawley Nuggets swept a two-game set in the championship finals to win the Section 8AA title and advance to the state tournament. Robert Williams/FOCUS

DETROIT LAKES — The Hawley Nuggets erased a three-run first inning deficit and scored 10 runs in the final three innings to complete a two-game sweep and claim the Minnesota Class 2A Section 8 championship defeating Perham 10-5 at Washington Park Friday.

Hawley advanced to a second title game winning twice Thursday in Perham by a score of 7-6 in eight innings over the Yellowajckets and defeating Park Rapids 7-6 in the early game.

Hawley took advantage of less than perfect fielding by the Yellowjackets to break a four-inning scoring slump and take their first lead scoring four times in the fifth inning on hits that did not leave the infield.

Perham answered in the bottom of the fifth to tie the game at four when Josh Still singled in Mason Malikowski.

Perham left the bases loaded for the third time in the game in the fifth. The Jackets stranded three runners in the first and third innings also. The Yellowjackets left 14 men on base in the game.

The Nuggets stranded 11 runners, but plated two in the sixth on a double by Ben Steichen to score Grant Klevegaard. Steichen pushed the lead to 6-4 scoring on a double steal.

Klevegaard, who was a reserve player until last night, replacing Jeremy Schenck after Schenck was ejected, scored twice in Friday’s final in a starting role playing big time baseball when he was needed off the bench.

“It was all pretty exciting,” said Kleevegaard. “The situation I was in, I didn’t know how I was going to do. I just went out there and played ball.”

Jordan Harms earned the pitching victory throwing six innings in relief of starter Parker Hanson, who gave up the three Perham runs, one earned, in the first inning.

Harms surrendered only two hits, continually working out of jams with runners on base. Perham got runners on the bags via six walks and two hit batsmen and three Hawley errors.

“I threw on Tuesday and Thursday so my arm was a little sore,” Harms said. “Once I got into the groove I felt pretty good. “The run support was unreal. Putting the ball in play and Crabtree going deep, it’s really awesome.”

Kody Crabtree launched a two-run insurance homer over the 353-foot sign in left-center to put Hawley up 8-4 in the seventh. The Nuggets added two more runs on RBI singles from Harms and Parker Hanson to score Alex Kading and bring Kleevegaard around for his second run of the game.

“That made Jordan Harms’ job on the mound a lot easier,” Head Coach Beau Lofgren said.

“Beating Perham always feels good in the championship,” said Kleevegaard. “With all the talent on this team, I didn’t see how we couldn’t win.”

Sam Pirrotta walked and scored on a fielding error in Perham’s last at-bats but Harms shut the door on his seventh strikeout of the game for the final out with runners on first and second base for the 10-5 final.

Perham’s sophomore ace Alec Meyer pitched five innings in a no-decision. Jost Still took the loss in relief.

Perham attempted to pitch around Crabtree and Hanson giving free passes twice to each of Hawley’s sluggers.

Hawley outhit Perham 12-3 with a number of hot grounders that made fielding difficult for the Perham defense compounded by throwing errors and bad bounces.

Hawley had two extra base hits: Steichen’s double and Crabtree’s home run.

“Now I think we can rest a little bit,” Lofgren said. “We’ve been on adrenaline for days. These guys, not to beat a dead horse, they did it last year in Legion (coming through the loser’s bracket). They just don’t quit. They believe in themselves. There’s a sense of urgency with them at the right time.”

State tournament play is scheduled to begin at Dick Putz Field in St. Cloud Thursday, June 12.

HAW 000 042 3 — 10 12 3

PER 300 010 1 —    5  3  4

HAW: Hanson, Harms (WP) and Kading.

PER: Meyer, Still (LP), Lueders, Malikowski and Mulcahy.

An earlier version of this story incorrectly listed the pitching loss and innings pitched by the Perham starter.

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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