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AMATEUR BASEBALL: Youth will meet experience in Blue Ox's Class C state tourney opener vs. Jordan

BEMIDJI — In the world of Minnesota amateur baseball it is not unusual to see a team’s roster dominated by players who hail from a different community. Such is not the case with the Bemidji Blue Ox, however.

Bemidji’s roster is home grown as the only two players not from the home of Paul Bunyan are catcher/manager Matt Baier and pitcher/infielder Ryan Sander. Both found their way to Bemidji via the BSU baseball team and continue to have a hand in the community’s success on the diamond.

The remainder of the roster, however, is home-grown and the bulk of the players were members of the 2012 Lumberjacks team that finished second in the Minnesota High School League Class 3A state tournament.

“It is cool that these guys are all playing together in the summer,” said BHS baseball coach Mike Fogelson who guided that group of Jacks to Target Field for the state title game.

“When you put that group of players together they will be successful and it’s not a surprise to me that they are headed to the state amateur tournament.”

That group includes outfielder Nick Hovila, infielders Connor McNallan, Mitch Hendricks, Sam Dwyer and Cody Jenkins, outfielder and pitcher Collin Rutledge plus outfielder and designated hitter Cody Rutledge.

Completing the roster are former Lumberjacks Sol Schneider, Chris Conway, Gabe Salander, Ryan Stevens and Simon Anderson.

“It’s exciting and pretty sweet to see so many former Lumberjacks playing together,” Fogelson said. “Hopefully they can accomplish things at the state tournament.”

The Blue Ox (19-4) had a bye in the first round and will play Jordan 11 a.m. today in Belle Plaine. Jordan defeated Luxemburg 5-1 last week to earn a berth in the second round.

If Bemidji can defeat Jordan it will face either Waconia or Howard Lake 11 a.m., Aug. 30 in Jordan.

“Sunday’s game can’t come soon enough,” Baier said earlier this week. “We’ve been off for two weeks and that’s too long. But we’ve practiced three or four times a week so we are as prepared as we are going to be.”

Baier attended a few of last weekend’s state tournament games and watched Jordan defeat Luxemburg.

“Jordan looks like they have some good pitching and are an older and more veteran team than we are,” he said. “We are one of the youngest teams in the tournament and it is tough to tell how we will stack up.

“We’ve faced only a handful of pitchers of the caliber that you see at the state tournament but we’ve been successful against them. If we put the ball into play we’ll be fine. I think our pitching will be as strong as Jordan’s and both defenses will come to play. It should be a great game.”

If everyone is available, Bemidji’s probable lineup will have Sander pitching to Baier, Dwyer at first, Jenkins at second, McNallan at third and Hendricks at short. The outfield will see Hovila in left, Anderson in center and Collin Rutledge in right.

There is a chance that Hendricks won’t be able to play, however, because he also is the starting quarterback for Gustavus Adolphus and the Gusties coaching staff probably will make football a top priority. If that is the case, Baier will adjust his lineup as necessary.

Class C State Tournament Belle Plaine/Jordan Second Round Friday, Aug 22 Fort Ripley 9, Blue Earth 6

New Ulm 9, Loretto 4

Green Isle 8, Dumont 1

Sobieski 3, Maple Lake 1

Saturday, Aug. 23

St. Augusta vs. Winsted

Sartell 4, Belle Plaine 0

Waconia vs. Howard Lake

St. Patrick 6, Jackson 5

Nisswa 4, Waseca 2

St. Peter vs. Ada

Lastrup vs. Owatonna

Fairmont 6, St. Martin 1

Sunday, Aug. 24 Bemidji Blue Ox vs. Jordan, 11 a.m., Belle Plaine

Faribault vs. Luverne

Long Prairie vs. New Market

Fergus Falls vs. Kimball

Pat Miller

Pat Miller is the sports editor at the Pioneer.

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