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Greg DeVillers / Forum News Service, Published June 06 2013

Perham clinches berth at Minnesota state baseball tournament

CROOKSTON, Minn. – Even though he’s only lost one game all season, Eric Brauch has been Perham’s no-support pitcher.

“He’s been our tough-luck pitcher,” Perham coach Hans Hanson said. “We don’t usually give Eric a lot of runs to work with.”

Brauch got more than enough offensive support on Thursday. The senior threw a one-hitter as the Yellowjackets defeated Roseau 5-2 in the championship game of the Minnesota Class 2A, Section 8 baseball tournament.

The win advances the Yellowjackets (16-5) to next week’s state tournament. It will be their first appearance at the state tournament since 2004. Roseau, coming up short in its bid for a second straight section title, finished 13-10.

“Sometimes our bats are a little slow,” said Brauch, who improved to 4-1. “But you work with what you have. And in those games, when I’d be working with one- or two-run leads, that kind of motivates me to work harder.”

The 6-foot-4 right-hander struck out 10 while walking only two. Both of those came in the sixth inning when Alex Halstensgard lined a two-out, 0-2 pitch into center field for a single. That was Roseau’s lone hit, and it also drove in two runs. That was the only inning Roseau got a runner past first base.

Perham took a 1-0 lead in the fourth inning with a pair of hits and two Roseau errors.

The Yellowjackets made it 3-0 in the top of the fifth. Josh Still manufactured the first run. Leading off the inning, he reached on a bunt single on the third-base side. He then still stole second, was sacrificed to third and scored on a wild pitch. Jon Laughlin singled in another run with two outs in the inning.

After Roseau got within one at 3-2, C.J. Mulcahy’s two-run single to right field gave Perham a 5-2 lead in the bottom of the sixth.

“We’ve been able to manufacture runs like Still did all year,” Hanson said. “And when we can do that, we seem to get more aggressive.”

The three-run lead was enough for Brauch, who retired Roseau in order in the seventh. It was the fifth inning in which he retired the Rams in order.

“This is the way he’s pitched all year,” Hanson said. “He throws very hard and he throws strikes. He’s got a live ball.”

Perham reached the championship game when it finished off Roseau 5-3 in a matchup of the two lone unbeatens left in the tournament in a game that was suspended Tuesday due to inclement weather. Roseau then rallied with runs in the seventh and eighth innings to edge Thief River Falls 2-1 in a loser-out game and set up the title matchup.

Championship

Perham 5, Roseau 2

R 000 002 0–2 1 3

P 000 122 x–5 9 3

W–Brauch. L–Halvorson.

Loser-out game

Roseau 2, Thief River Falls 1

R 000 000 11–2 7 0

TRF 000 001 00–1 2 1

W–Strand. L–Hoffard.

Winner’s bracket game

Perham 5, Roseau 3

P 000 221 0–5 8 3

R 210 000 0–3 4 0

W–Stigman. L–Krahn.


DeVillers writes for the Grand Forks Herald