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Storm goes 20-9, takes 4th in district

Jon Burlingame made a diving catch in center field for the Storm during the Timberline League tournament.1 / 2
Riley Massie slid in with a stolen base during the Storm's Timberline League playoff game against Perham.2 / 2

The quest of a return trip to the state tournament fell short for the Park Rapids Storm Babe Ruth baseball team last weekend.

The Storm entered the District II tournament at Perham as the No. 2 seed from the Timberline League. The group of 14- and 15-year-olds lost to Bemidji 9-7 in the first round last Thursday before rebounding with wins over Nevis (7-4 last Thursday) and Bagley (4-1 last Friday) before being eliminated with a 7-2 loss to Bertha-Hewitt-Verndale last Friday.

Perham defeated BHV 7-6 in the championship game as both teams qualified for state. New York Mills finished third while Park Rapids had to settle for fourth place in the district to end the season with a 20-9 overall record.

In the double-elimination tournament opener, Bemidji scored four times in the fourth before Park Rapids used singles by Riley Massie, Menahga draftee Levi Schwartz, Jordan McCollum and Derek Porozinski to score three times in the fifth. After Bemidji scored twice in the bottom of the fifth, Massie and McCollum scored in the sixth to make it 6-5. Bemidji responded with three runs in the bottom of the inning before singles by Damion Hanke, Jon Burlingame and Schwartz produced the game's final two runs in the seventh. Massie, Schwartz and McCollum all had two hits for the Storm, which finished with10 hits in the game. McCollum took the loss.

A three-run first inning sparked the Storm past Nevis. Singles by Burl-ingame, Massie, Schwartz and Dylan Weaver gave the Storm a quick 3-0 lead. Nevis scored a run in the second, but Weaver and Porozinski singled and scored as the Storm led 5-1 in the third. Two errors helped Nevis score three times in the sixth, but a double by Schwartz and singles by Ben Baumgartner and Weaver produced two insurance runs in the bottom of the sixth. Weaver went 3 for 4 and Schwartz went 2 for 3 to pace the Storm's 10-hit attack. Schwartz picked up the win.

Porozinski threw a two-hitter and struck out six as the Storm eliminated Bagley. Singles by Burl-ingame and Weaver and an error gave the Storm a 2-0 lead in the first before Schwartz walked and scored on McCollum's double in the fifth. Massie walked and scored on singles by Schwartz, McCollum and Weaver in the seventh. McCollum went 2 for 4 to lead Park Rapids' eight-hit attack.

BHV scored three times in the first and four times in the fourth to eliminate the Storm. Park Rapids scored its two runs in the fourth on a walk to Schwartz, a single by Weaver and an error. A single by Massie, a double by Baumgartner and a single by Porozinski were the only other hits for Park Rapids. Schwartz took the loss.

Storm qualifies for districts

The Storm qualified for the district tournament by earning runner-up honors in the Timberline League tournament July 17-20.

Park Rapids went 12-4 during Timberline League play to tie BHV and Menahga for the regular-season title. BHV received the No. 1 seed for the tournament with Park Rapids seeded No. 2 and Menahga seeded No. 3.

In the first round, the Storm belted out 15 hits in blanking No. 7 Staples-Motley 15-0 in four innings. A single by Burlingame, a double by Massie and a single by Baumgartner gave the Storm a 2-0 lead in the first. Singles by Weaver, Burlingame, Massie, Porozinski and McCollum and a double by Hanke led to six runs in the second. After Massie's RBI single plated Hanke in the third, the Storm ended the game via the 10-run rule by scoring six times in the fourth. Connor Byer, Weaver, Hanke and Porozinski had singles while Massie and McCollum had doubles during that inning. Massie went 4 for 4 while Burlingame, Porozinski, McCollum and Weaver had two hits each. McCollum threw a two-hitter for the win.

A four-run fifth inning led the Storm past Menahga. A walk to Weaver, a single by Byer, a double by Matt Bade and a single by Hanke sparked that inning. Baumgartner singled and scored on Byer's single in the sixth to seal the win. Baumgartner and Byer each went 2 for 3 to lead Park Rapids' six-hit attack. McCollum threw a four-hitter and struck out seven for the win.

After being held to three hits in a 2-0 loss to Perham (which entered the tournament as the No. 5 seed), the Storm earned a spot in the championship game with a 9-2 win over BHV. Singles by Burlingame, Baumgartner, Porozinski and Weaver led to three runs in the first before doubles by Burlingame and Massie and singles by Hanke, McCollum and Weaver led to three more runs in the fourth. Burlingame singled and scored on Massie's single in the fifth before singles by Hanke, Massie and Baumgartner produced the final two runs in the seventh. Burlingame and Massie had three hits each while Baumgartner, Weaver and Hanke had two hits each as the Storm belted out 14 hits. McCollum was the winning pitcher in that game.

The Storm forced a deciding game for the title by defeating Perham 10-9 in nine innings. Weaver led off the ninth with a single and scored the winning run on an error. Two errors, two walks and Weaver's single gave Park Rapids a 3-0 lead in the first before a double by Cole Coborn and a single by Baumgartner sparked a three-run second for a 6-0 lead. Perham scored seven times in the third and added two runs in the fourth for a 9-6 advantage before Park Rapids rallied. Coborn singled and scored on Massie's single in the fourth before Coborn and Burlingame singled and scored in the sixth to tie the game. Perham left two runners on base in the seventh, left the bases loaded in the eighth and left two runners on base in the ninth. Burlingame, Hanke and Coborn all had three hits as the Storm had 15 hits in the game.

In the deciding game (which was limited to four innings because of darkness), Perham claimed the title by scoring five times in the fourth. Baumgartner's single in the first, singles by Porozinski and Hanke in the second, and a single by Weaver in the fourth were the only hits for the Storm. Massie took the loss.