Lakers slide past Panthers
A four-run fourth inning tilted the scales of victory to the No. 2 seeded Detroit Lakes baseball team, after it survived to advance to the second round of the Sub-Section 8-2A playoffs Thursday.
The No. 7 Park Rapids Panthers pushed the Lakers the entire tilt, but senior lefty pitcher Alex Guetter pulled out a strong game on the mound to help give the Lakers a close 6-4 victory, along with seven strikeouts.
The Panthers outhit the Lakers by a 7-6 margin, but three hits in the decisive fourth inning by DL ended up being the turning point in the game.
But Park Rapids also held another distinction over the Lakers with four errors compared to the home team's one, which led to three unearned runs.
"The game was kind of up and down, but my defense really picked me up, too," Guetter said of his first round outing. "I was using my curveball mostly, but my fastball was working as well. But I was mostly depending on the curve today."
Guetter basically struggled in one inning -- the fifth -- where the Panthers picked up two runs off of two hits, an error, a walk and a hit batter.
Leadoff hitter Paul Dirks picked up one of his three hits in the game in the fifth, that being an RBI single, which was followed by an RBI fielder's choice from Sam Coburn.
But Guetter rebounded by finishing off Jack Mercado and Dan Pike with back-to-back strikeouts to end the frame.
"Our defense didn't make a lot of plays, but Alex kept battling," said DL head coach Steve Fuhs. "He did a great job and we needed that from one of our seniors. They didn't hit a lot of hard balls and that's a credit to Alex."
After trailing 2-1 after the third inning, the Lakers put together their four-run fourth, as they gained over half of their hits in that one frame.
Senior first baseman T.J. Manning kickstarted the rally with a one-out single, as Tyler Fode ripped a hard single to right field to score the speedster from second base, after Brock Johnson drew a walk.
Another walk by Panther pitcher Kevin McMorrow loaded the bases, with Joe Thompson promptly smacking an RBI single to leftfield.
McMorrow had some control problems, walking in a run and hitting Brett Provo in consecutive series, which plated two more DL runs.
But McMorrow gave up just five total hits in the game, with three of them coming in the fourth.
"We were very anxious at the plate," Fuhs said of DL's offense. "They were jumping at balls and (McMorrow) did a good job keeping them off balance."
The Lakers added an insurance run up 5-4 in the fifth after Johnson drew a one-out walk, stole second and took home on an Andy Pederson single to right-center field.
"Our guys find a way to get the hits when needed," Guetter said of his offensive mates' production.
Although DL had only five hits, they did collect five RBIs in the game and struck out only three times.
Fuhs decided to throw the dice and gamble a little by starting his No. 2 starter in Guetter against Park Rapids, while saving his ace Johnson for round two -- which was Saturday at 4 p.m. against Perham in Washington Ballpark.
Johnson did earn the save after Sam Coburn hit a single off of Guetter in the top of the seventh.
The Laker ace mowed down the next three Park Rapids batters for the save and preserved Guetter's win.
One negative which did come out of the game was the ejection of Fuhs, who was tossed by the field umpire after questioning a play were a Park Rapids runner didn't slide after being thrown out stealing second base by catcher Brian Labat.
The Panther runner collided with junior shortstop Connor McLeod, who was hurt in the process (McLeod returned in the seventh inning).
While Fuhs was checking on McLeod, a few words were exchanged and the short-triggered field ump tossed the DL coach.
The ejection cost Fuhs a game, which was enforced Saturday, with assistant coach Terry Eiter taking over the reins for the game against No. 3 Perham -- which toppled No. 6 Roseau 7-1.
The winner Saturday will advance to the double-elimination portion of the tournament in Fergus Falls Tuesday at 11 a.m., against the victor of the North No. 1 Warroad and No. 5 East Grand Forks.
The winner from that game will play at 6:30 p.m. in Fergus Falls the same day. The finals will be played Thursday, June 10, at 2:30 p.m. in Fergus Falls.
Sub-Section playoffs: (7) Park Rapids at (2) Detroit Lakes, Thursday, June 3.
Panthers 101 020 0 - 4 7 4
Lakers 100 410 x - 6 5 1
AB R H Bi
B. Provo 3 1 0 1
D. Engberg 4 0 1 0
C. McLeod 3 0 0 0
T. Manning 3 1 1 0
B. Johnson 1 2 0 0
T. Fode 3 1 1 1
A. Pederson 2 1 1 1
J. Thompson 3 0 1 1
B. Labat 1 0 0 1
J. Manning 1 0 0 0
Totals 24 6 5 5
AB R H Bi
P. Dirks 4 2 3 1
S. Coburn 4 0 1 1
T. Coborn 2 0 1 1
K. McMorrow 2 0 0 0
J. Mercado 4 0 0 0
D. Pike 3 0 0 0
C. Odland 3 0 0 0
L. Erickson 2 1 1 0
N. Belfiori 2 1 1 0
Totals 26 4 7 3
2B: Peterson, Stennes (3), Clark.
Pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-k): DL - A. Guetter (WP) 6-6-4-3-3-7; B. Johnson (SV) 1-0-0-0-0-1...PR: McMorrow (LP) 6-6-6-4-4-3.