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Storm caps season as state runner-up

One bad inning cost the Park Rapids Storm Babe Ruth baseball team a chance to win a state title.

Leading up to the state tournament, the Storm had not allowed more than seven runs in a game. Not committing errors and not issuing free passes were the keys as the Storm entered state with a 19-0 record.

The Storm used that same combination to win five of six games and advance to the state title game. However, Dassel-Cokato took advantage of four errors, two walks and two hit batters to score 10 times in the seventh inning to rally for a 17-8 victory in Sunday's championship game at Richmond.

The Park Rapids 14- and 15-year-old team opened the double-elimination state tournament by defeating Cold Spring Blue 10-4 and St. Augusta 11-1 in five innings on Thursday at Cold Spring.

Tyler McCollum and Perham draftee Tristan Hammans combined on a four-hitter in the win over Cold Spring.

After a walk to Rilee Johnson and a single by Menahga draftee Bob Lusti tied the game at 1-1 in the third, the Storm took the lead for good by scoring three times in the fifth. A single by Johnson, a double by Lusti, an error and walks to Cody Brumbaugh and Derek Porozinski gave the Storm a 4-2 lead.

A single by Brad Eischens, a double by Drew Bade and a single by Brumbaugh led to three more runs in the sixth as the Storm led 7-3.

Singles by Eischens, Lusti, Tyler McCollum and Jordan McCollum led to the final three runs in the seventh.

Tyler McCollum gave up three runs and struck out five over the first 4 2/3 innings before Hammans allowed one run and struck out seven over the final 2 1/3 innings.

Bade and Hammans combined on a one-hitter as the Storm defeated St. Augusta in the second game.

The Storm scored a run in the first on a single by Bade and a double by Lusti before taking control by scoring 10 times in the second. Singles by Eischens, Lusti, Tyler McCollum, Brumbaugh and Porozinski, a double by Jordan McCollum and a triple by Josh Severtson were the key hits in that inning.

Bade allowed one run over the first four innings while Hammans walked two before striking out the side in the fifth.

Hammans and Bade combined on a six-hitter to lead the Storm to a 5-3 win over Albany on Friday at Cold Spring.

Singles by Jordan McCollum, Brumbaugh, Eischens and Bade produced the two game-winning runs in the seventh inning.

Bade's double was the key hit as the Storm claimed a 2-0 lead in the first and Johnson singled and scored in the third as the Storm led 3-1. Albany tied the game by scoring twice in the fifth before the Storm scored the winning runs in the seventh.

Hammans allowed three runs while striking out eight over the first five innings before Bade pitched the final two innings.

Dassel-Cokato handed the Storm its first loss of the season with a 7-3 victory in Saturday's winners' bracket game at Richmond. Dassel-Cokato scored four times in the third and twice in the fifth to remain the only undefeated team in the tournament.

A single by Rilee Massie and a double by Severtson led to two runs in the fifth while Bade singled and scored in the sixth to account for the Storm's three runs.

Tyler McCollum allowed four runs over the first three innings, Jordan McCollum gave up three runs in 3 1/3 innings and Johnson struck out the final two batters.

The Storm earned another shot at Dassel-Cokato with a 7-0 win over Albany in Sunday's first game at Richmond.

Hammans struck out 11 over the first five innings and Tyler McCollum struck out three over the final two innings as the two pitchers combined on a no-hitter. Albany had 10 baserunners on eight walks and two errors.

The Storm took a 2-0 lead in the first on doubles by Eischens and Johnson and a single by Lusti. Johnson singled and scored on Tyler McCollum's double in the fifth before singles by Massie, Severtson, Eischens, Johnson and Tyler McCollum produced the final four runs in the sixth.

A six-run third inning sparked the Storm to an 11-6 win over Dassel-Cokato to force a deciding game for the state title.

A double by Bade and singles by Eischens, Lusti, Tyler McCollum, Brumbaugh and Porozinski gave the Storm a 6-1 lead. After Bade walked and scored in the fourth, a pair of two-out errors, a double by Brumbaugh and a single by Massie led to the Storm's final four runs in the sixth.

Johnson allowed all six runs, including four in the seventh inning, for the win while Tyler McCollum retired the final two batters.

The Storm was in position to claim the state title by jumping out to an 8-1 lead in the final game.

A double by Severtson and singles by Bade and Johnson were the key hits during a five-run second inning while singles by Massie and Eischens and a double by Severtson led to three runs in the third. Singles by Johnson and Jordan McCollum in the seventh inning were the only other baserunners for the Storm the rest of the game.

Dassel-Cokato chipped away at the deficit by scoring twice on two errors in the fourth and four times on two errors in the sixth. Dassel-Cokato then sent 14 batters to the plate in the seventh inning to complete the comeback.

Bade went the first 6 1/3 innings before Tyler McCollum recorded the final two outs.

"I felt so bad for the kids. The worst thing was we had it won and we gave it away. We just needed to make a couple of plays, but we had too many errors," said Storm head coach Greg Johnson. "I'm really happy with the season we had. I knew this team was going to be good, but they exceeded my expectations. It's a tough way to end the season, but the kids don't have any reason to hang their heads. They had a great season."