Storm earns trip to state tournament
Clayton Hoyt wasn't surprised when the Park Rapids Storm Babe Ruth baseball team qualified for the state 14-15 year old tournament. Two years ago, this group of 15-year-old players qualified for the state 13-year-old tournament. Despite losing tw...
Clayton Hoyt wasn't surprised when the Park Rapids Storm Babe Ruth baseball team qualified for the state 14-15 year old tournament.
Two years ago, this group of 15-year-old players qualified for the state 13-year-old tournament. Despite losing twice to Wadena in last Saturday's District 2 tournament at New York Mills, Park Rapids earned another trip to state.
"Coming into the year, I thought we were one of the teams to beat," said Hoyt. "These 15-year-olds went to state as 13-year-olds two years ago, so I thought our chances of going to state this year were very good. I knew it would be a challenge, but I liked our chances."
Park Rapids qualified for the district tournament with a runner-up finish at the Timberline League Tournament. Park Rapids, the No. 2 seed, defeated No. 7 Bertha-Hewitt/Verndale 3-0, No. 3 Perham 7-0 and No. 1 Wadena-Deer Creek 4-3 before losing to W-DC 4-1 in the championship game. Will Pickar went the distance against BHV while Gabe Bagstad and Brendon Kruchowski teamed up to defeat Perham and W-DC. Nathan David threw a complete game in the title game.
The Storm opened the district tournament with a 10-0 win over Bemidji and an 11-1 win over Perham last Thursday before earning a state berth with a 4-3 win over New York Mills last Friday. Park Rapids was denied the district title when W-DC followed a 10-7 win with a 14-2 victory in last Saturday's championship games.
Kruchowski threw a one-hitter while Ty Karger, Pickar and Bagstad scored two runs each in the win over Bemidji.
Bagstad went the distance against Perham and went 3 for 4 at the plate. Karger scored three runs and Pickar scored twice in that win.
Pickar threw a complete game against New York Mills as Karger and Tristin Persons scored in the first and in the fifth innings to give the Storm a 4-1 lead. That win guaranteed the Storm of a trip to state.
W-DC, which scored 55 runs in the last four district games, claimed the district title. Persons went 4 for 4 and scored twice and Pickar went 2 for 4 with two runs in the first game while Bagstad and David scored the Storm's runs in the second game.
"I was very happy with the way we played. These guys really turned it on in our first three district games," said Hoyt. "Our pitching is one of our strengths and we're tough outs from the top to the bottom of our lineup. We've got good athletes and good leadership. This is a great group of kids."
Hoyt plans on using the same starting lineup at state with Bagstad leading off and playing shortstop when not pitching, Cameron Hoyt batting second and playing second base, Karger batting third and playing left field, Persons hitting fourth and playing center field, Pickar batting fifth and playing first base or shortstop when not pitching, Sebeka draftee Noah Stevens batting sixth and catching, Jack Hensel batting seventh and playing right field, Kruchowski hitting eighth and playing first base when not pitching, and David batting ninth and playing third base.
The Storm also drafted Menahga's Lars Keranen and Thomas Litzau to help with pitching and catching. Providing depth will be Marcus Benson, Hunter Carnell, Joey Stachowski and Dan Walsh. Also playing during the regular season were Rylley Clark, Luke Dickinson and Blake Sellin.
The double-elimination state tournament began Thursday and concludes Sunday at Avon. Hoyt and assistant coach Lance Bagstad expect the Storm to make a run at winning a state title.
"I expect us to play well down there," said Hoyt. "There are going to be a lot of good clubs down there and we're going to see pitching that we haven't seen before. But these kids are competitors. I think we'll be successful."