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Perham scores 10 unanswered to down Hornets

Rory Drewes (1) slides in safely at third base before Patrick Johnson (2) can lay down a tag in Thursday's Section 8AA playoff game at Krueger Field. Jason Groth/Forum News Service

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. 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.

Perham 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.

Frazee pulled off an upset earlier in the day defeating the No. 1 seed Barnesville 6-1 to advance.

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 D-G-F 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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