PERHAM – Jordan Harms ripped a two-out, full-count liner down the third-base line to score Kody Crabtree giving the Hawley Nuggets a 7-6 extra-inning victory over Perham to stave off elimination and force a winner-take-all second game today for the Minnesota Section Class 2A, Section 8 baseball championship.
“I was just trying to hit it square, hit a line drive in a gap somewhere,” said Harms. “It happened to work out, off his glove, but we’ll take it.”
Harms’ smash caromed off the glove of Perham third baseman Dylan Kruzel to allow Crabtree to score from third base.
“One of our goals was to beat Perham and play at Perham’s level,” Hawley head coach Beau Lofgren said. “We kind of took the hard road, but here we are. I’m very proud of the kids; they worked hard.”
Hawley trailed 6-5 in the seventh inning after Kruzel put the Yellowjackets ahead with a long home run to left field in the sixth.
Due to a pregame coin flip, Hawley was the home team and led off the home half of the last regulation inning with three straight hits.
Harms doubled to lead off but was caught in a rundown between third base and the plate after Perham leftfielder Tanner Carlson missed a diving attempt on a sinking liner by Parker Hanson. Carlson’s relay caught Harms midway down the basepath and he was tagged out.
Hanson moved around to third base on the play and tied the game at six on a RBI single by Ben Steichen.
Perham jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the top of the second. Austin Erickson led off with a base hit and stole second and third base scoring on a single by Josh Still. Jake Lueders took a two-out walk and came around on a past ball and a RBI single by Carlson for a 2-0 lead. CJ Mulcahy knocked in Still and Carlson with a two-RBI double.
Hawley answered with three unearned runs in the bottom half on a single by Hanson and two Perham errors.
Hanson tied the game at four with a solo shot in the third inning - the first of two Hawley home runs.
Crabtree launched a solo shot in the fourth inning to give Hawley the lead back 5-4.
Carlson tied the game for Perham with a one-out walk in the sixth inning, a stolen base and tagged from second on a fly ball to centerfield by Mulcahy scoring when the throw to third base got away.
Hawley third baseman Jeremy Schenck was ejected from the game after arguing the play with the field umpire.
Schenck was batting in the two hole and his spot in the order came up with runners on first and second in the sixth inning, two away, with Perham leading by a run. Reserve Grant Klevegaard was struck out by Mulcahy, who took the loss in relief of starter Kruzel.
Hanson got the pitching victory for Hawley throwing two innings in relief of starter Clute.
Clute had an impressive day on the mound keeping the Nuggets in the game with six solid innings against Perham and closing out the final innings in Hawley’s opening victory over Park Rapids.
“Mr. Clute gave us a gutty performance,” said Lofgren. “He hasn’t thrown a whole lot for us this year, but he wanted the ball.”
Clute escaped a bases-loaded one-out jam in the fourth inning and ended a Perham rally with runners on the corners in the fifth by himself fielding a come-backer from Jake Lueders and taking the ball all the way to first base.
“We were really low on pitchers,” said Clute. “I had to come in and throw strikes. I just got out there and tried to do the best I could.”
Hanson earned the pitching victory in relief escaping a bases-loaded jam in the seventh striking out Carlson to not allow Perham any insurance runs.
Hawley defeated Park Rapids by the same score 7-6 to eliminate the Panthers in the early game. Clute picked up the save fanning the final two batters with the tying run on third base.
Hawley beat both the top seeds from each subsection Thursday to remain alive in tournament play.
Thursday’s games were moved to Perham giving the Yellowjackets home field advantage after rain earlier in the day washed out Washington Park in Detroit Lakes.
Today’s final is scheduled to be played in Detroit Lakes at 1 p.m.