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Eric Peterson, Published July 29 2013

Hawley heads back to Minnesota Division II state tournament

HAWLEY, Minn. – Last summer, the Hawley American Legion baseball team didn’t complete its season due to a low number of players. A year later, the program is headed to state.

Hawley beat Warroad 1-0 on Sunday to earn a spot in the Minnesota Division II state tournament, which starts on Friday in Bird Island. Hawley is slated to play its first-round game at 3:30 p.m. Friday.

“It is absolutely crazy,” said Hawley head coach Tim Pederson.

Hawley will have just 11 players on its roster for the state tournament, including a player who is fresh off a broken wrist.

“For such a small group of kids, they’re pretty doggone determined to make sure that they compete at the highest level,” said Pederson, who took over the program from Beau Lofgren prior to this season.

Hawley (22-6) had to win five consecutive elimination games at the District 9 tournament to earn its second state berth in the past three seasons.

“It took a lot of pitching,” said Hawley right-hander Jordan Harms, who is 7-0 with 52 strikeouts this season. “We kind of weren’t worried. We just thought whatever happens, happens.”

Hawley lost its second game at districts, and then had to battle back through the loser’s bracket to make the title game. Hawley defeated Warroad on Saturday to force a second championship game on Sunday.

That second title game was tied at 0-0 heading into the bottom of the seventh inning. Hawley had runners on second and third base with No. 5 hitter Jeremy Schenck at the plate.

The winning run scored after the Warroad pitcher was called for a balk that ended the game.

“We would have liked to put the ball in play and win it that way, but it didn’t happen that way,” Pederson said. “We’re moving on.”

Harms was on second base when the balk was called.

“It was nuts,” said the 16-year-old Harms. “We were pretty confident that we were going to score anyway. … I feel like it would have been a better way to win on a hit, but we will take it.”

Pederson said pitching and defense have been strengths of his team this summer. He wasn’t sure if his team would have enough pitching to survive the loser’s bracket at the district tournament, needing to win five games in three days.

“You worry about how much pitching do you really have left?” Pederson said.

The team’s four main starters – Harms, Josh Johnson, Parker Hanson and Chad Clute – proved strong enough to help their team rally for the district crown.

“I was pretty low in the tank there,” said Harms, who pitched the final two innings in Sunday’s 1-0 victory. “By the end of that, I think that our arms were pretty sore and kind of wore out.”

Hawley also made it to the Division II state tournament in 2011. That was the program’s first trip to state since 1928.

Readers can reach Forum reporter

Eric Peterson at (701) 241-5513.

Peterson’s blog can be found

at peterson.areavoices.com