Late-season surge sends Esox to Region 14C tournament
A rout and a wild win locked up a trip to the Region 14C tournament for the Park Rapids Esox amateur baseball team.
The Esox ended the regular season with three straight Lake and Pine League victories to earn the final spot in the region tournament. Park Rapids followed a dramatic 11-10 win over Staples on July 16 with a 13-3 win in seven innings over Huntersville Saturday and a 3-2 win in 11 innings over Nimrod Sunday in the regular-season and home finales at Park Rapids.
That gave the Esox a 6-8 record against Lake and Pine League opponents for the league's No. 6 seed entering the region tournament, which begins Saturday at Deer Creek and Perham. Park Rapids carries an 8-10 overall record into a first-round game against Detroit Lakes (the No. 3 seed from the Hi-10 League) Saturday night at 5 at Perham. The winner of that game plays Wolf Lake (the No. 2 seed in the Lake and Pine League) Sunday afternoon at noon at Perham while the loser is eliminated.
Saturday night's other first-round games at Deer Creek pit Perham (the No. 4 seed in the Hi-10) against Sebeka (the No. 5 seed in the Lake and Pine) at 5 and Nimrod (the No. 3 seed in the Lake and Pine) against Bertha (the No. 6 seed in the Hi-10) at 8. The other opening-round game at Perham Saturday night has Bluffton (the No. 5 seed in the Hi-10) playing Staples (the No. 3 seed in the Lake and Pine) at 8.
Midway (the No. 1 seed in the Lake and Pine) plays the winner between Perham and Sebeka Sunday at noon at Deer Creek while Wadena-Deer Creek (the No. 2 seed in the Hi-10) plays the Nimrod vs. Bertha winner Sunday afternoon at 3 at Deer Creek. New York Mills (the No. 1 seed in the Hi-10) plays the winner between Bluffton and Staples Sunday afternoon at 3 at Perham.
The region tournament concludes Aug. 12.
Esox swat Horseflies
Park Rapids avenged a 17-7 loss to Huntersville on July 9 behind a pair of home runs by Dylan Stenberg and a blast from David Dirks.
The Esox jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first inning. Clayton Gallus was hit by a pitch and scored on Stenberg's first homer of the game. Dirks reached on an error and scored on Derek Parks' RBI single as Park Rapids claimed the early lead.
The Horseflies took advantage of two errors to cut the gap to 3-2 in the third before Park Rapids took control.
Singles by Stenberg and Parks led to a run in the bottom of the third while singles by Zach Eystad and Riley Massie produced another run in the fourth. A walk to Gallus and a single by Stenberg set up a three-run homer by Dirks in the sixth. A five-run seventh inning ended the game early via the 10-run rule. Walks to Jordan McCollum and Gallus preceded a three-run blast by Stenberg. Micah Barrett was hit by a pitch, Erik Lockhart singled and Dave Mortensen walked to load the bases before consecutive walks to Jed Ryan and Gavin Hitchcock ended the game.
Mortensen went the distance for the win.
Esox outlast Gnats
Ryan scored on a wild pitch with two outs in the 11th inning as the Esox edged Nimrod to close out the regular season with a win.
Nimrod, which defeated the Esox 5-1 earlier in the season, took a 1-0 lead in the fourth behind two walks, a hit batter and an error.
Park Rapids tied it in the bottom of the fourth behind two-out singles by Mortensen, Dylan Weaver and Ryan.
A double by Parks and an RBI single by Weaver gave Park Rapids a 2-1 lead in the sixth.
The Gnats tied the game in the top of the ninth before the Esox prevailed in the 11th when Ryan led off with a single, advanced to third on a single by Massie and a grounder by Gallus, and scored the winning run on a wild pitch.
Park Rapids had two other scoring chances when Mortensen and Weaver singled with one out in the second and infield singles with two outs by Massie, Gallus and Stenberg loaded the bases in the ninth.
Nimrod stranded 14 runners on base, including leaving the bases loaded in the fourth and sixth innings.
Park Rapids, which left 12 runners on base, finished with 15 hits with Massie (3 for 6), Weaver (3 for 6), Gallus (2 for 5), Stenberg (2 for 5), Mortensen (2 for 5) and Ryan (2 for 4) leading the way.
Stenberg started and gave up one run on four walks and a hit batter with two strikeouts over the first four innings. Gallus picked up the win in relief, giving up one run on five hits, three walks and three hit batters while striking out four in seven innings.