Erickson powers Esox in win over Wolf Lake
In the first meeting this season, Jacob Marcus limited the Park Rapids Esox to only five hits and struck out 14 batters as Wolf Lake prevailed with a 3-2 Lake and Pine League amateur baseball win on June 10 at Park Rapids.
In the rematch Sunday afternoon at Wolf Lake, Marcus held the Esox to three hits through five scoreless innings before Park Rapids' offense erupted for 11 runs in the next three innings in an 11-7 victory.
Marcus retired the first seven batters before Dan Pike lined a double with one out in the third inning. TJ Erickson's single with one out in the fourth and Kevin Kuhn's single with one out in the fifth accounted for Park Rapids' other baserunners in the early going.
Park Rapids starter Austin Becker was just as effective, leaving the bases loaded in the first and allowing only two other baserunners through the first four innings. Derek Pihlaja and Al Pietila walked and Sam Meyer singled to load the bases with one out in the first, but Becker retired the next two batters. Pietila walked with two outs in the third and Dylan Walsh walked to lead off the fourth, but was erased on a double play.
Wolf Lake broke through in the fifth as one-out singles by Sam Pikula and Pihlaja, Pietila's RBI single and Meyer's two-run double gave the Wolf Pack a 3-0 lead.
The Esox tied the game at 3-3 in the sixth behind Riley Massie's lead-off double, Tom Juberian's single, Erickson's two-run single and Becker's RBI single.
After Becker struck out the side in the bottom of the sixth, the Esox used Nick Jasmer's one-out single, Juberian's two-out single, Erickson's two-run double and Zach Hocking's RBI infield single to claim a 6-3 advantage and end the day for Marcus.
In the bottom of the seventh, Pihlaja walked and Pietila reached on an error, but Becker struck out the next two batters to leave two more Wolf Lake runners on base.
The Esox took advantage of three Wolf Lake errors to score five runs off Pietila in the eighth. Jed Ryan led off by reaching on an error and Kuhn followed with a single. Pike put down a sacrifice bunt, but a two-base throwing error enabled Ryan to score and Kuhn to advance to third. After a one-out walk to Massie loaded the bases, Kuhn and Pike scored on wild pitches. Erickson's RBI double with two outs and another error gave Park Rapids an 11-3 advantage.
Wolf Lake loaded the bases in the eighth on Levi Schwartz's lead-off single, a walk to Ron Litzau and an infield single by Pihlaja, but Becker coaxed an inning-ending grounder to end that threat.
Ryan Wokasch took over in the ninth and gave up a one-out single to Pike, who was erased on a double play.
Wolf Lake mounted a rally off Juberian in the bottom of the ninth. A bunt single by Pietila, a single by Meyer and a walk to Walsh loaded the bases. A walk to Schwartz and an RBI grounder by Thomas Litzau brought in two runs before an RBI single by Wokasch, a walk to Pihlaja and an RBI single by Marcus made it 11-7. Juberian coaxed a pop up to leave the bases loaded and end the game.
Erickson went 4 for 5 with three runs and five RBI while Juberian went 2 for 5 with two runs to pace Park Rapids' 15-hit attack. Becker (2 for 5), Kuhn (2 for 5) and Pike (2 for 5) also contributed on offense. Becker picked up the win, allowing three runs on eight hits and six walks with 11 strikeouts over eight innings. The win lifted Park Rapids' overall record to 11-8.
Pihlaja (2 for 3), Pietila (2 for 4), Meyer (3 for 5) and Schwartz (2 for 4) led Wolf Lake, which finished with 12 hits. Marcus gave up six runs on 11 hits in 6 ⅔ innings while Pietila allowed five runs on three hits in 1 ⅓ innings. Those two combined for nine strikeouts while issuing only one walk. Wolf Lake fell to 6-6 in league games.
Park Rapids hosts Nimrod Sunday afternoon at 1:30 in the regular-season finale with the winner locking up second place in the Lake and Pine standings. Both teams enter this game with 10-3 records in league play.