Tappe leads Hornets to second round
No. 4 Frazee and No. 5 Hawley came into the opening game of the Section 8AA playoffs on opposite streaks and the Nuggets took an early lead before Frazee’s bats came alive in a seven-run fifth inning to advance to the second round in an 8-2 Hornets’ victory Tuesday in Frazee.
Hawley came into the game winners of eight of the last nine games, while Frazee struggled down the stretch dropping six of the final seven regular season games.
“It feels good to get this victory,” Hornets’ head coach Andy Mekalson said. “We just had to come out and play baseball. The sun started shining when we started scoring runs.”
The game began under windy and cold conditions, which warmed up as the game progressed, much like the Frazee bats.
“We had to be patient, granted, Thompson was throwing strikes,” said Mekalson. “We made a couple innings that were a low pitch count for him. He wanted to speed it up on the mound. Once we slowed him down, we started having quality at-bats.”
Hawley starter Drew Thompson worked around a bases loaded situation in the first and a first-batter error in the field in the second inning.
Frazee starter Tanner Tappe and the Hornets saved an early run with a 9-1-2-3 double play to end the top of the second. Hawley’s Grant Klevgaard was gunned down at the plate on a relay from right fielder Gabe Drewes to Tappe to catcher Dalton Smith, who applied the tag and fired to first baseman Thomas Stenger for the third out of the inning and a momentum killer for the Nugget offense.
Tappe made his first start of the season having pitched in the closer’s role all year. He pitched in place of Nick Endersby, who has 10 stitches in his leg from cleating himself on a routine fly ball in practice prior to the game. Endersby is not likely to play in the second round Thursday.
Tappe was consistent on the mound. Hawley’s two runs came unearned in the fourth as Frazee’s defense stumbled midway through the game.
“He’s a reliever, but I had a gut feeling going with him today because he’ll throw strikes,” Mekalson said. “We just had to get him in his motion.”
Frazee got a run back in the bottom of the fourth after loading the bags with no outs. Logan Wacker knocked in Thomas Stenger.
Tappe retired the Nuggets in order in the fifth on two groundouts and a strikeout.
The Hornets put the game away in the home half loading the bases on back-to-back singles from Jon Hoffmann and Tappe. Dalton Smith walked. A Stenger single tied the game scoring Hoffmann. Jaden Guhlke brought home Christian Weldon with the eventual game winner and Thompson beaned Gabe Drewes with the bases loaded to bring home Smith with the fourth run.
Wacker knocked in Stenger for a 5-2 lead and Rory Drewes added a two RBI single and Wacker scored on a sacrifice fly by Hoffmann to complete the rally.
Tappe polished off the complete game keeping the Nuggets off the scoreboard the final two innings. He allowed five hits, struck out four and walked one.
Thompson took the loss allowing eight runs, seven earned, walking and striking out two.
Tappe led Frazee at the plate as well with three hits. Rory Drewes and Wacker each had two RBI.
There were a pair of defensive gems in the game made by both centerfielders Trayton Cossette for Hawley and Rory Drewes. Each player made a diving grab in short center at key moments of the game.
Hawley finished the year at 11-10 coming back from a 2-8 start to the season.Hornets split two games on day two
Frazee upset Heart O’ Lakes champions and the No. 1-seed Barnesville Thursday, June 1 by a score of 6-1 in Perham in the opening game of double elimination play.
The victory set up a meeting with the host Yellowjackets for a berth in the south section semifinal. The Hornets took a 7-2 lead in the fourth inning only to see Perham rally back with six runs to lead by one after five innings and go on to score 10 unanswered runs for a 12-7 victory.
Frazee will face Park Rapids in an elimination game Tuesday, June 6 in Perham at 2 p.m. Perham faces Warroad the same day for a spot in the finals.