MOORHEAD — Four plate appearances in Detroit Lakes Sub-State 14’s game against East Grand Forks, Cade Jackson’s leash on the mound was about as short as it gets.
Three straight walks before a goal-laden shot-for-shot gassed EGF in Post 15’s second playoff game of the day. However, two sacrificial flies later in the inning were the runs Jackson gave up for the rest of the game.
Detroit Lakes stormed back from their three-point deficit to win 6-3, fending off elimination for the third time in two days. It’s a victory that follows another comeback against Bemidji on Friday morning in an 8-4 win.
“We had good senior leadership with Bradly Swiers and Jordan Tucker,” Detroit Lakes head coach Phil Kirchner said. “They’ve led us all year offensively, but it was 1-9 for us today. That was the key today – hitting the ball. If the top of the order doesn’t hit well, the rest of the guys have to be fine.
Jackson calmed down, allowing just two hits in six innings of work. With his pitch-to-contact approach, he retired two batters and walked six in a gusty start.
“Cade didn’t pitch a lot of innings this summer, but he came on and gave us what we needed after a tough start,” Kirchner said. “I was going to let him roll a few more hitters (before taking him out). He ended up going six innings. Hats off to him. Everyone is skinny on their hands at this point, especially us. He did exactly what we expected of him today.
Detroit Lakes entered the board when Jordan Tucker scored on a double steal. Noah Rieber singled in another run during the same at-bat to cut the lead to one in the third inning.
Post 15 took its first lead of the game late in the fourth inning. Bradly Sweirs tied it with an RBI single before Kirchner brought Swiers home with a fielder hit.
In the bottom of the sixth, Jordan Tucker tripled in a run before scoring on Jacob Thomas’ single. Thomas came on to pitch the next inning, earning a stoppage with one strikeout and two fly outs.
“Jacob came over and shut it down, that was awesome,” Kirchner said. “It’s only his third appearance all year because he had injuries. He was off. Our pitchers deserve a lot of credit for stepping up. Nobody wants to go down 3-0, but we did and we we didn’t give up.
Detroit Lakes earned a berth in Game 2 after beating Bemidji for the first time this year on Friday morning. After losing regular-season doubles in high school and in the Legion, Post 15 pulled a rabbit out of its hat to buy seven more innings.
“We knew we could beat them after playing close games with them all year,” Kirchner said. “We didn’t give up, even when they took the lead. We didn’t fold, and that’s what this team does. We played bad baseball (this summer), but we also played good baseball. It’s a seven inning game, and you can play all seven.”
Tucker kicked things off with an RBI single in the top of the first inning before Reiber doubled the lead with a bunt single in the third.
“He’s a player, and we love it when he does stuff like that,” Kirchner said of Rieber. “Guys who do things like that are big for this team. If we go down, don’t lie down. Get up and go hard.
Bemidji salvaged both runs and then some with a three-run third inning. Tucker tied the game at 3-3 with a two-out single in the fourth before Thomas put the lead firmly at 15 with a two-RBI double.
“I think our mentality has changed,” Riber said. “I think we all want to go up there and hit the ball hard and give ourselves a chance to win. I want to do my job (at home plate) and I will be happy with it.
Leading 6-4, Rieber singled on an insurance run in the top of the seventh before scoring on a wild pitch. Rieber was also part of the Detroit Lakes’ central defensive game on Friday, keeping unearned runs off the scoreboard.
“Relieved, I would say,” Rieber said of what it’s like to win playoff games. “When we lost to Perham it didn’t look so promising. But we bounced back, fought hard and hit the ball really well.
Detroit Lakes will face top-seeded Moorhead in their fourth playoff game in three days on Saturday at noon.