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Bemidji Post 14 right fielder Zach Solheim goes deep to the fence to make a catch during the first game of a doubleheader against Grand Rapids Tuesday at the BSU baseball diamond. The orange snow fence behind Solheim made it possible for the Legion to play Tuesday, as Monday's storms destroyed a stretch of the field's outfield wall. Jack Hittinger | Bemidji Pioneer

Another strange night: Walk-off win, power outage highlight Bemidji Legion doubleheader

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BEMIDJI - Mike Fogelson wasn't sure if the Bemidji Legion Post 14 baseball team would even be playing Tuesday.

And who could blame him? Just Monday night the storm that ravaged the Bemidji area tore down a huge chunk of the outfield wall at the Bemidji State University baseball diamond, where the team plays its home games.

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But thanks to the Bemidji State baseball staff and grounds crew, the field was geared up to go Tuesday night.

Well, mostly.

Post 14 (9-4-1) took care of business in the first game of a doubleheader against Grand Rapids, winning 4-3 in a walk-off.

But the second game was ruled a 3-3 tie after the power went off in the eighth inning.

Just another night at the BSU baseball diamond.

"It was just a goofy night," Fogelson said after Tuesday's game two was ruled a tie.

The Legion head coach said that the field lost power with Grand Rapids leading 4-3 in the top of the eighth.

The lights did come back on, eventually, but by that point the Grand Rapids squad had left. Because Bemidji didn't get its last at-bats, the game was ruled a tie.

Still, the fact that the teams played at all was something of a minor miracle. There was no significant damage to the actual playing surface, but plenty of branches and debris littered the field Tuesday morning before BSU head baseball coach Tim Bellew and the rest of the grounds crew cleaned it up in the morning.

"We weren't sure if we would play today, but the grounds crew hinted that we would try," Fogelson said. "And give Tim Bellew and the rest of the grounds crew credit, they did a great job getting the field ready to play."

That included installing a temporary snow fence in front of the mangled outfield wall.

The foul pole, also bent beyond repair, was replaced with yellow padding from the original fence.

In all, Fogelson was appreciative of the fact that they were able to play Tuesday.

"There are a lot of places that are not functioning right now," he said. "But our baseball field is. Give them a lot of credit."

Bemidji won game one in walk-off fashion.

After starter Ryan Hirt gave up a run in the top of the seventh to give Rapids a 3-2 lead, Bemidji answered the call in the bottom half of the inning.

Nick Hovila led things off with a double to right field. Then Mitchell Hendricks hit a bouncer to shortstop and just beat the throw to first, putting runners at the corners with no outs.

Cody Rutledge walked to load the bases, and after Collin Leif struck out swinging, Connor McNallan hit another grounder to short. The Rapids shortstop tossed it to second for the first out but McNallan beat the throw to score Hovila and tie the game at 3-all.

The next hitter, Cody Jenkins, won the game with a single to right center to cap the win.

Hirt won the game on the mound, going all seven innings. He struck out six and walked three, giving up three runs on eight hits.

Rutledge had two RBI singles for Bemidji, while Hovila had two hits, including a double.

In game two, Rapids took the early 2-0 lead in the second inning. But Bemidji slowly rallied, and all three of its runs came courtesy of the long ball.

Jenkins hit a solo shot over the monster in left field to cut the lead to 2-1 in the fourth inning.

Rutledge answered with another solo homer in the sixth inning, tying it up at 2-all.

Grand Rapids re-took the lead in the seventh, but Don Hale tied it up again in the bottom half of the frame.

This time, his long fly ball bounced over the center fielder's head and Hale was able to race home for an inside-the-park home run.

Grand Rapids took yet another lead in the eighth but then the lights went out. The game ended officially as a tie.

Mitch Hendricks pitched all seven innings in game two, striking out four and walking only one but giving up three runs on six hits.

Bemidji had seven hits off Reid Bender, who also struck out four and walked one.

Bemidji returns to action Friday night for another doubleheader, this time against Grand Forks Red River at 5 and 7 p.m.

Game 1

Bemidji 4, Grand Rapids 3

Grand Rapids 010 001 1 - 3 9 1

Bemidji 001 010 2 - 4 8 1

Brewer (L) and Bischoff. K-7, BB-3.

Hirt (W) and Leif. K-6. BB-3.

Game 2

Bemidji 3, Grand Rapids 3

(game tied due to power outage)

Grand Rapids 020 000 1 - 3 7 2

Bemidji 000 101 1 - 3 7 2

Bender and Frazier. K-4. BB-1.

Hendricks and Buckanaga. K-4. BB-1.

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Jack Hittinger
Jack Hittinger is a sports reporter for the Bemidji Pioneer, focusing on Bemidji State but also covering area high schools. He hails from the Great State of Michigan. Read his Bemidji State blog at http://thebeaverblog.areavoices.com/ and follow him on Twitter at @Jackhitts.
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