ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Baseball: Yellowjackets turn to small ball, live to fight another day against Roseau

The Perham baseball team forced a winner-take-all game against Roseau on Friday at noon in Park Rapids after a 1-0 win over Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton and a 5-3 win over Roseau in 11 innings.

1 Gage Germolus AD7C0089.JPG
Perham's Gage Germolus, right, gets a high five from assistant coach TJ Super in the Yellowjackets' second elimination game on June 9, 2022 at the Section 8-2A baseball tournament in Park Rapids.
We are part of The Trust Project.

PARK RAPIDS – The Yellowjackets pride themselves on being a team of power, which makes it all the more surprising they turned to small ball to keep their season alive.

Perham (24-2) lived to fight at least one more day with a 5-3 win over Roseau (16-6) in 11 innings. On a day when the bats stayed cold, the ability to "do the little things" better than the North's second seed forced a second Section 8-2A title game.

"Today, it came down to small ball and being able to throw strikes out of the bullpen," Perham head coach James Mulcahy said. "It's no secret that we've been a power-hitting team all year long. When push came to shove, we played small ball… It says a lot when you have a big and strong team and ask them to play small ball to win. They haven't had to do a lot of this all year."

Blaiz Schmidt drew a leadoff walk to start the top of the 11th inning in a 3-3 tie. Evan Kovash, the designated hitter out of the eight-hole, dropped a perfect bunt down the third-base line. He forced an errant throw at first base, allowing Schmidt to score the eventual game-winning run.

1 Chas Melvin AD7C0003.JPG
Perham's Chas Melvin pitches in the Yellowjackets' second elimination game on June 9, 2022 at the Section 8-2A baseball tournament in Park Rapids.
Jared Rubado / Perham Focus

"We just had to get the job done," Kovash said. "We had to find ways to get runs. We didn't want to play another inning because 11 innings is a lot of baseball. (Schmidt) got on base, and Gage (Germolus) and I had really good bunts. I just want to do whatever it takes to win. I don't want to be selfish. I just want to do anything I can to get a win."

ADVERTISEMENT

Germolus followed with another bunt one pitch later to set up Austin Aanenson, who doubled the lead on a ground ball to the shortstop.

"It comes down to who's more determined," Germolus said. "Obviously, we can hit the ball over the fence. It's doing the little things right like bunts and playing small ball that matter in games like this."

Junior Gamble Bye hasn't seen much time on the mound this spring. However, he was asked to get some of Perham's biggest outs of the season.

After Rian Solberg gave the Yellowjackets a 3-2 lead in the top of the 10th, Roseau tied the game in the next half inning on Gavin Gunderson's two-out, run-scoring single. Bye came in relief for Ashton Detloff, who was pulled to stay under 30 pitches, keeping his availability for game two on Friday.

1 Evan Kovash AD7C0215.JPG
Perham's Evan Kovash celebrates a run scored in the Yellowjackets' second elimination game on June 9, 2022 at the Section 8-2A baseball tournament in Park Rapids.

Bye got the final four outs of the game to earn the win.

"We know he's got enough experience and how much he knows baseball," Mulcahy said of Bye. "He understood the situation. If we had to play 13, 14, 15 or 16 innings, we would ride him the rest of the way. We told him that. He's only come out of the bullpen a couple of times. He's one of our dudes that have to come out and perform, and he did that."

After the Rams took Tuesday's 8-2A semifinal game, Perham came into Thursday needing to earn a rubber match.

The Yellowjackets defeated Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton (18-8) 1-0 in the final game of the elimination.

ADVERTISEMENT

The game's lone run came in the fifth inning. Kovash laced a double to right field before stealing third. He later scored on a fielder's choice.

There aren't many designated hitters sitting in the eighth spot every game. After an injury to senior Jack Mensing, Kovash was asked to step up and learn how to contribute at the varsity level earlier than expected.

"It speaks to him and his mentality," Mulcahy said of Kovash. "When Jack Mensing went down, we didn't know who our DH was. We didn't know what Evan's role was coming into this year… He sacrificed JV at-bats to get ready for varsity. Down the stretch, he's gotten his backside chewed a little bit. He's had to figure out his role. He stepped up, which is a positive for a junior who didn't know what he was on this team."

1 Connor Colliton AD7C0190.JPG
Perham's Connor Colliton fist pumps in the Yellowjackets' second elimination game on June 9, 2022 at the Section 8-2A baseball tournament in Park Rapids.
Jared Rubado / Perham Focus

One run was all Germolus needed on the mound. He threw six shutout innings, allowing just two hits and three walks. Schmidt came in to earn the save after Germolus reached the pitch-count limit of 115.

"When I was warming up in the bullpen, I thought to myself, 'This could be my last game,'" Germolus said. "I went out there and gave it my best. (DGF) did everything right today. They're a solid team, and they're a problem for us in our conference and section. They're always ready to play."

Needing to win three games to get to state and having every pitcher except Logan Pulju available for Thursday, Mulcahy had a decision to make as to who would start game one. He turned to a senior and gave him a chance to have his signature playoff moment this spring.

"He has been that guy all year," Mulcahy said of Germolus. "He hasn't always had the toughest opponents. I told the guys yesterday that my decision was to throw Gage against DGF. I have confidence in Gage. You take a chance in saving your No. 1 (pitcher). If you save him and lose and you didn't use him, it's frustrating. I told him to do what he does best, and that's pound the strike zone, and the bats will come around. They didn't, but to get that performance out of him and run it all the way to 115 pitches is exactly what we needed."

Germolus opened the door for Perham's ace in game two. Senior Chas Melvin threw seven strong innings. He allowed only one earned run, four hits, four walks and struck out five batters. Melvin tallied 117 pitches on the day.

ADVERTISEMENT

1 Rian Solberg .JPG
Perham's Rian Solberg hits a single in in the Yellowjackets' first elimination game on June 9, 2022 at the Section 8-2A baseball tournament in Park Rapids.

"He started the entire year in football on both sides of the ball," Mulcahy said. He played almost every minute in basketball. You expect and you need your three-sport athlete, who has played every inning, every down and every minute to step up in those big situations."

Perham was on the other side of a team battling its way through elimination games to win the Section 8-2A championship last year. On Friday at noon in Park Rapids, the Yellowjackets hope to see what it's like to be on the other side of the story.

"We have to have the same mindset," Kovash said. "We know that we can come back and beat (Roseau). We just have to come ready to play."

Jared Rubado is the sports editor for the Detroit Lakes Tribune and the Perham Focus. He moved to the area in September of 2021 after covering sports for the Alexandria Echo Press for nearly three years. Jared graduated from the University of Augustana in 2018 with degrees in journalism and sports managment.
What to read next
Recap from the Perham Buzz Legion baseball team