by Head Coach Jim Erzar
The Deer River Warrior baseball team won their first two playoff games to become one of two teams with no losses in the Section 7A double elimination tournament. The Warriors who earned the number one seed in the north at the conclusion of the regular season with an 18-2 record had an opening round bye before traveling to Ely on Tuesday, May 29th to take on the winner of Chisholm and NE Range. NE Range defeated Chisholm but the Warriors game with NE Range was postponed because the field became unplayable because of rain. So the Warriors made the return trip to Ely the next day and defeated the Nighthawks 15-4 in five innings. The following day, Thursday, June 1st, the Warriors had a much shorter trip as they took on the South’s number two seed, Carlton, in Cohasset and defeated the Bulldogs 10-0 in five innings behind a very solid pitching performance from Jeffrey Moore. Those wins advanced the Warriors (20-2) to the undefeated game against the number one seed from the south, South Ridge (17-3), Tuesday, June 6th at Wade Stadium in Duluth. The results of that game were unavailable at press time. The other two teams that remain alive with one loss in the 14 team Section 7A Tournament are Ely and Silver Bay. For Deer River, this is the seventh time in the past nine years that the Warriors have advanced to the undefeated game of the Section 7A playoffs. The Warriors won the Section in 2010, 2011 and 2015.
In the Warriors opening game win against Northeast Range, the Nighthawks grabbed an early 1-0 lead but the Warriors came right back in the bottom of the first inning with four runs. Deer River scored two more in the second inning, one in the third for a 7-1 lead and then added eight runs in the fourth for a 15-4 win in five innings. Chad Benham picked up the pitching win throwing four innings. He allowed two runs on only three hits, struck out six and walked one. Troy Finn pitched the final inning for the Warriors allowing two runs on just one hit. He walked one and struck out the Nighthawk’s number four batter to end the game. Jaxson Willis led the Warrior hitting attack going two for three with two doubles, four RBI’s and two runs scored. Tyler Anttila was two for two with a double and an RBI while Chad Benham was one for four with two RBI’s and scored three runs. Dakota Goggleye, Robert Moore and Jake Schimek also had hits while Goggleye, Schimek and Cole Casselman had RBI’s. In the Carlton game, Jeffrey Moore shut out the Bulldogs in Cohasset allowing only four hits while striking out a season high 12 batters. He walked four. The Warriors took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning on Chad Benham’s double against the left field fence which scored Goggleye from first base. The Warriors added three in the second inning, two in the third and four more in the fourth for the 10-0 win. Moore also had a good day at the plate going two for three with a triple, two runs scored and an RBI. Benham also had two hits including a double, a triple, and an RBI. Willis was two for three, scored two runs and had an RBI. Tyler Anttila had two RBI’s with his double and Cole Casselman had a double and an RBI. Ethan Schjenken, Robert Moore, and Jake Schimek also had hits. Eight different Warriors had RBI’s.
The Section 7A Tournament finals are slated for Wade Stadium Thursday, June 8th at 5:00 PM with a possible game to follow. If the Warriors defeated South Ridge, they would advance to the Section Finals. If the Warriors lost to South Ridge, they would have battled the winner between Ely and Silver Bay Tuesday, June 6th, at 8:00 PM for the right to get to the finals. The Section 7A champion will play at the state tournament June 15-16 at the Mini Met in Jordan and at the Chaska Athletic Park with the State Finals set for Target Field, home of the Minnesota Twins, on Monday, June 19th.