As a young team, Harper Creek has shown improvement throughout the season.
That improvement hit the field at just the right time Saturday as Harper Creek defeated Pennfield, 7-1, in the championship game of this Division 2 baseball district, played at Pennfield High School.
The Beavers, with only two seniors on the roster, defeated a veteran Pennfield squad to move on in the tournament.
“Our team has continued to get better all season. We are young, but we are playing our best baseball at the right moment,” said Harper Creek coach Chad Dishaw. “All week long we talked about wanting to keep it going. It’s neat to see this young team get better and they know we are getting better and we want to keep this thing rolling to see how good we can be.”
Harper Creek (17-9) advances to the regional at Carleton Airport next Saturday to play the winner of the Chelsea district.
“One of our goals at the beginning of the season was to win our district and now we have another week of practice and another opportunity to play next week,” said Harper Creek senior Bailey Weesies. “And we have to go into next week with the same mindset we had going into districts as we head into regionals.”
Pennfield, which won this district last season, had its eyes on this tourney title on Saturday with a core group of players that raised the trophy last year. But the Panthers saw their season come to an end at 17-13.
“We had high expectations all year long. When you have seven seniors coming back from a district championship team, you expect a big year,” said Pennfield coach Rob Moran. “But today, they shut us down in the championship game. We didn’t hit the ball. But our kids never quit fighting today or all year, so I’m proud of them for that.”
Harper Creek’s pitching dominated the district with Joe Stasa getting the win on the mound in the final against Pennfield, throwing a three-hitter and striking out 12 in the game.
In the semifinal, Harper Creek defeated Parma Western, 6-1, with Mickey Barea getting the win for the Beavers. He allowed just one earned run while striking out seven.
“We put it together today. We had timely hits and two pitchers that really pitched really well,” Dishaw said. “These two guys, our 1-2, have carried us all year long. We are excited about our pitching staff, they are young and have big things ahead.”
In the championship game, Jason Mueller had two hits and two RBIs for the Beavers with Barea and Turner Shaw each getting two hits to help their team reach regionals.
“We talked about not wanting the season to end this weekend,” said Beaver senior Nate Hicks. “We were at practice Friday and we said, this isn’t going to be our last practice together. We wanted to keep the season going and we did that today.”
Pennfield defeated Marshall in the other semifinal, 7-6, with the Panthers’ Caleb Frein getting the win, holding the Redhawks to four hits and striking out seven. Hunter Hoogakker had two hits and three RBIs for the Panthers with Brayden Bennett and Tanner Dean each adding two hits.