Tuesday afternoon, the Becker Bulldogs used an offensive onslaught to defeat the #1-seeded Big Lake Hornets, 12-2 in a winner’s bracket game held in Waite Park. During the regular season, the two teams split a pair of games, but Tuesday afternoon it wasn’t close as the Bulldogs ended the game early via the 10-run rule.
Becker wasted little time jumping out to a lead when Kurstyn Patnode scored in the first inning on an infield single off the bat of Hannah Bartlett. Later in the inning, Kennedy Drehmel would score when Makenna Zerwas was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded to make it 2-0. The Hornets escaped further damage due to a base running miscue by the Bulldogs or things might have gotten out of hand before the Hornets came to bat in the bottom of the first inning.
Becker’s defense was sharp and pitcher Emma Eickhoff was on target as she put the Hornets down 1-2-3 to bring her team back to bat.
Becker added another run in the top of the second when Ellie Gallus reached on a single, stole second, and scored on a Patnode single.
The lead grew to 5-0 in the third, as Bartlett led off with a single and Zerwas hit a line drive home run to center field to score two.
It was all the Bulldogs would need, even though the Hornets would respond in the bottom of the third when Paige Dickson drew a walk and Izzy Loftus followed with a two-run homer to make the score 5-2.
The teams played a scoreless fourth, and then the Bulldogs opened the game up with four runs in the top of the fifth.
Maddie Sherman led off with a single and scored on a Patnode single. Two batters later, Cadence Koste hit a three-run homer to make the score 9-2. Becker would add three more runs in the sixth, including Zerwas’ second homer of the game. Eickhoff would shut down the Hornets in the bottom of the sixth and the game would end due to the 10-run rule, 12-2.
Leaders at the plate for the Bulldogs included Zerwas with two home runs, Patnode’s 4-for-5 performance, and Eickhoff and Sherman each with three hits.
Eickhoff again got the win, going the distance and allowing two runs on just three hits as she dominated the game from the pitcher’s circle. She walked two and struck out five in her six innings of work.
Last Thursday, Becker hosted Rocori in a section semifinal and came away victorious, 6-3. The Bulldogs struck first with a run in the bottom of the first inning when Patnode reached on an error and scored on a sacrifice fly off the bat of Bartlett.
Becker added two runs in the bottom of the second on a two out rally, as Gallus and Krista Paulson reached base in front of Patnode who singled to score both runners.
The Spartans answered back in the top of the third with a bases loaded double that plated three runs and knotted the score at three.
However, Becker would come right back and retake the lead in the bottom of the inning when Koste led off with a single and eventually scored on an RBI single off the bat of Zerwas. From there, the Bulldogs added to their lead in the bottom of the fifth when they loaded the bases and Zerwas hit another single that would plate two runs and make it 6-3. Emma Eickhoff would make the lead hold up and 6-3 was the final.
Koste had three hits on the night and Zerwas drove in three runs on her two hits. Eickhoff went all seven innings for the win, allowing three runs on five hits. She walked three and struck out an incredible 16 Spartan batters.
With Tuesday’s big win over the Hornets, Becker advanced to the section championship Thursday at 4 p.m. in Waite Park. It will be a rematch with Rocori who defeated Big Lake on Tuesday in an elimination game that ended the Hornets’ season.
A Becker win would send them back to the state tournament, whereas, if the Spartans win at 4 p.m., a second game will follow with the winner advancing to state.
The Patriot will have all the details in next week’s edition.