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Angels secure fourth state berth with dramatic win; DL to face Blaine Friday

Mason Swegarden pitched 7.1 innings against Bertha to help the Angels to the Class C state tournament. (Brian Basham/DL Newspapers)

For the fourth time since the Detroit Lakes Angels were rebooted back into amateur baseball action in 2006, they will be heading to the Class C state tournament. 

But this state berth came as one of the more exciting of the four, after the Angels (21-10) survived the talented Bertha Blazers Saturday in Perham during the state play-in game, winning an intense 8-7 tilt.

The Angels will be playing in the first-round, after losing out on the bye with a 10-3 loss to Long Prairie in the title tilt.

DL will play Belle Plaine Friday in Jordan at 7:30 p.m. Belle Plaine finished as Class C’s runner-up last season.

“Although we played some poor defense (five errors), we pitched well enough to win and hit the ball well against a very good pitcher in Pat Riewer,” said DL manager Phil Kirchner. “Beating Bertha is a pretty big deal because they are a great team.”

The two teams were no strangers to each other, as the Blazers took two of three games over the Angels over the course of the season, including in the Hi-10 League championship.

But the Angels received some crucial pitching by Mason Swegarden, who went 7.1 innings, allowing one earned run, walking three and striking out six.

“Mason is the real deal, he has some good stuff on the mound,” Kirchner said.

Ironically, though, it was a defensive play which saved the Angels in the bottom of the ninth inning.

After an errant throw past third base went astray, the Bertha runner, who was at first base, tried his luck taking third after rounding second.

Trevor Tappe’s throw was dead on to third and the Blazers were done and gone with the third out on the board.

Swegarden also had the eventual game-winning RBI in the seventh inning, while Jackson Nelson picked up the save by pitching the final 1.2 innings, allowing two runs and three hits.

Gilson added two hits and a pair of spectacular defensive plays in the centerfield, while shortstop Taylor Fuhs, right fielder Bryan Buhr and Tappe each had two hits.

Michael Riewer had three hits and an RBI to lead the Blazers, while nine other Bertha batters had one hit each.

The Angels were able to erase a 2-0 deficit with a six-run top of the fifth, while the Blazers chipped away with a run in the sixth and two in each of the seventh and ninth frames.

In the championship game against Long Prairie later that evening, the Predators took the 10-3 victory, despite being outhit 12-9.

DL had five errors, while Doug Dickey added three hits and two RBIs. Kirk McLeod and Phil Doll each finished with two hits.

Tappe took the loss with 4.1 innings of work.

The Angels’ hitting has been a strength all season, with a team batting average just over .300.

Fuhs is hitting near .500, while Kirk McLeod is a .400 hitter. Each of Connor McLeod and Nick Esala are over the .350 mark, while four other Angels are hitting near .300.

The Angels will also have three ace pitchers entering the state tournament, with Brock Johnson and Swegarden ready to go, along with Bertha draftee Pat Riewer.

“The big thing is we need to play good defense,” Kirchner said. “We have a good mix of veteran players and younger players, who will be playing in their first state tournament. Our hitting is solid one through nine, so limiting our mistakes on defense will be key.”

The winner between the Angels and Belle Plaine will face Sartell Saturday, Aug. 23, in Belle Plaine.

The final four rounds will be held Aug. 30-Sept. 1, all single elimination.

Region 14C tournament in Perham, Friday-Saturday, Aug. 8-9.

State play-in game: Detroit Lakes vs. Bertha

DL 000 060 200 – 8 11 5

Bertha 200 001 202 – 7 12 2

Detroit Lakes


C. Gilson 6 1 2 0

P. Kirchner 2 0 0 0

T. Fuhs 4 1 2 0

K. McLeod 4 0 1 0

P. Doll 3 1 0 0

D. Dickey 4 1 1 1

B. Buhr 5 1 2 1

R. Berg 4 1 0 1

T. Tappe 4 2 2 2

M. Swegarden 2 0 1 2

TOTAL 38 8 11 7

Pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-k): DL – Swegarden (WP) 7.1-9-5-1-3-6; Nelson (SV) 1.2-3-2-2-0-0…Bertha: P. Riewer (LP) 4.2-4-6-0-7-3; J. Riewer 2-5-2-2-0-2; John Riewer 2.1-2-0-0-1-0.

Region 14C Championship: Detroit Lakes vs. Long Prairie

DL 000 100 200 – 3 12 5

LP 002 341 00x – 10 9 3

Detroit Lakes


Gilson 4 0 1 0

Buhr 5 0 0 0

Fuhs 3 0 1 0

J. Nelson 2 1 1 0

K. McLeod 5 2 2 0

Doll 4 0 2 0

Dickey 5 0 3 2

Tappe 3 0 0 0

Swegarden 4 0 1 0

R. Berg 3 0 1 0

M. Jorgenson 1 0 0 0

TOTALS 39 3 12 2

Pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-k): DL – T. Tappe (LP) 4.1-8-9-5-4-4; Gilson 2.2-1-1-1-2-3; Dickey 1-0-0-0-0-0…LP: T. Gray (WP) 6.2-12-3-2-0-4; L. Riedel 2.1-0-0-0-2-3.

Brian Wierima
Detroit Lakes Newspapers Sports Editor for the last 15 years. St. Cloud State University graduate, who hails from Deer Creek, MN.