2023 Class AA Baseball State Championship: Esko 9, Perham 0
Posted: Friday, June 16, 2023 - 3:52 PM
The 2023 baseball season started late for Esko High School. Its first game – a 27-0 win over Barnum – was played on April 25. As it turned out, it set the tone for a great season that ended with the school’s first ever state baseball championship, a 9-0 victory over Perham in the Class AA title game at CHS Field on Friday, June 16.
Every starter had at least one hit for the hard-hitting Eskomos (27-1), who blew a tight game open with a five-run fifth inning. Cale Haugen, a senior catcher, winning pitcher Dylan Marciulionis and junior outfielder Finn Furcht had two apiece for the Eskomos, who finished with a dozen for the game – five of which went for extra bases. Perham starter Austin Schmelz threw the first 4 2/3 innings and took the loss.
Esko took the early lead with an unearned run plated by Connor Pearce’s RBI single. Nine batters came to the plate in the fateful fifth frame. Marciulionis led off with a single. Owen Wilson ran for him and came home when Sam Haugen singled to center field. After Ty Christensen walked, Haugen drilled a triple near the 402 mark in left center field. Two hits and a sacrifice fly produced two runs to make it 6-0. The next inning, Haugen drove in with a ground out and Isaak Sertich sent home a other with a ringing double to right field. Furcht capped the scoring with a solo home run to left field in the seventh inning.
Marcioulionis worked out of a first inning jam, leaving runners on first and third base. After that, he was in complete control, allowing only two more runners to reach base. He retired the last seven batters in a row in tossing his two-hit shutout. The junior right-hander walked one, hit one and struck out nine, using just 98 pitches to earn the victory.
Esko, the No. 1 seed, scored in double digits 15 times prior to the state tournament. The nine runs scored in the title game was one more than they achieved in their first two wins in the state tournament. But their pitching was solid, allowing just two runs in three games. They also flashed some serious leather as both third baseman Isaak Sertich and second baseman Pearce came up with excellent stops on ground balls for outs.
For the Yellowjackets, it was a tough end to a Cinderella tale. The unseeded Yellowjackets (24-4) took out No. 3 Foley and No. 2 Fairmont to advance to their second title game appearance in school history. Perham fell to Kasson-Mantorville in the Class AA title game in 2013.