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Perham erases early deficits in a pair of playoff wins

Perham's Ty Moser keeps his foot on the bag and makes the catch, retiring the Frazee base runner at first during their Section 8AA playoff game at Krueger Field in Perham. Jason Groth/FOCUS

One of the oldest saying in sports can be applied to the Perham baseball team. The saying is that no lead is safe. For the third straight game, the Yellowjackets proved that point when they erased a 7-2 deficit and turned it into a 12-7 victory over the Frazee Hornets, earning a berth into the Section 8AA Winner’s bracket final on June 1 at Kreuger Field.

“It was just a team effort,” Perham’s Roo Schmitz said. “Everyone did what they needed. We put bats together and came out on top.”

It was redemption of sorts for Schmitz. The right handed hurler struggled in the playoff opener with Pelican Rapids and was pulled in the first, retiring just one batter. He came on in relief of Noah Rooney in the third and held a surging offense in check for the remainder of the game.

“I was really proud of our eighth grader Noah Rooney. He came in and did a real great job,” Schmitz said. “From Tuesday, it was rough, but I knew I had to be here for the team after losing Matt (Benke).”

Benke, one of the top pitchers on the Perham staff, was injured in a fluke accident during practice and is out for the remainder of the postseason. But, the Yellowjackets showcased the depth they have on the mound.

“We have pitchers and we always will,” Schmitz said. “Matt is a big part of the team, but everybody is here and we have everyone to fill in for him.”

Rooney made his first varsity start against the Hornets. It was a valuable learning experience for the lefty, who may play a large role in the tournament outcome for the Yellowjackets. He went two and a third, allowing six runs on six hits. He struck out three and walked four.

But, it was Schmitz, who settled things down the hill, stymying the Hornet attack with an array of pitches.

Both teams plated runs in the first inning, but it was Frazee, who broke it open with a five run second inning. Dalton Smith and Hunter Suedel drove in a runs, while Thomas Stenger drove in two. Another run came in on a wild pitch.

However, the Yellowjackets chipped away at the lead, getting a run back in the third and the fourth, before exploding for nine runs in the fifth and sixth innings. It was a day of crooked numbers for the Yellowjackets. In the 11 plus innings they batted in two games, the Yellowjackets put up a crooked number in seven of them and scored a run in nine of them.

Dawson Stevens first career varsity hit came in a timely spot when he ripped an RBI single, which was followed by a bases loaded walk to Ryan Kalina. Patrick Johnson lifted a sacrifice fly, which was followed by RBI singles from Ty Moser and Jace Kovash. The Yellowjackets plated five runs on four hits in the inning, sending 11 to the plate, turning an 7-3 deficit into an 8-7 lead.

The Yellowjackets picked up some insurance in the sixth, scoring four more runs. Johnson, Moser and Kovash drove in runs, while another scored on an error by the Hornets.

Schmitz shut the door on the Hornets in the seventh, securing the win. Schmitz allowed one run on two hits. He struck out one, while walking a batter.

Kovash finished with four hits and two runs batted in, while Moser had two hits and three runs batted in at the top of the order. Johnson added a pair of hits and a pair of RBIs as well. Schmitz, Jeziorski, Elias Hoffman, Stevens and Kalina recorded hits in the win.

The offense wasted little time in responding to a deficit against Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton in their first game of the day. The Yellowjackets scored three in the first two innings, two in the third and five in the fourth, before ending it with three in the sixth on their way to a 16-6 victory.

Connor Breitenfeldt gutted out five innings, picking up the win. He allowed six runs on nine hits. He struck out five and walked five. He settled things down after making an adjustment with an offspeed pitch, helping keep DGF at bay for two scoreless innings after they struck for six in the first three.

Moser and Kovash had three hits each at the top of the lineup. Schmitz added two hits and three runs batted in. Jeziorski finished with a hit and drove in three runs. Hoffman and Kalina finished with two hits each. The Yellowjackets belted out 15 hits in their opening win over DGF.

The Yellowjackets will take on Warroad in the Section 8AA Winner’s Bracket final. The Yellowjackets will take to the diamond at 4:30 p.m. The 2 p.m. games on June 6 will feature Park Rapids taking on Frazee, while East Grand Forks will take on DGF in a pair of elimination games.

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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