Baseball: Bemidji begins final week of regular season with a victory
BEMIDJI -- During the past week the Bemidji baseball team improved from seventh place in Section 8-3A to second, as determined by the computer-generated QRF figures.
Owning a top-four position in the final seedings is vital for a successful post-season run as the teams that hold those spots will earn a first-round bye, will be assured of a home game during Monday's action and will automatically advance to the double-elimination portion of the section tournament.
"Right now we're seeded second and we want to stay where we are," said BHS coach Mike Fogelson.
Monday at the BSU diamond the Lumberjacks did what they needed to do to hold the second seed as they disposed of Detroit Lakes 6-4. The Lakers held a 1-0 lead after batting in the third and a 3-2 edge after the top of the fourth but on each occasion Bemidji answered with two runs to retake the advantage. And a 2-run fifth proved to be the difference.
"All we needed and wanted to do Monday was win. Ugly, pretty or indifferent, it didn't matter. Whenever you play Detroit Lakes you know that you will be in a battle. Detroit Lakes always competes and it did again on Monday. But we did many good things and found a way to win."
Leading the charge was the bottom three in the hitting order -- Tony Geerdes, Austin Weidemann and Parker Lucas. Before the game Fogelson challenged them to take charge offensively and the trio accepted.
"Tony, Austin and Parker really stepped up," Fogelson said. "They really produced. Among the three of them they gave us five or six very good at-bats."
Among those at-bats were consecutive plate appearances in the bottom of the fifth which produced two key insurance runs. Geerdes led off the frame with a single and Weidemann followed with a booming triple. Lucas capped the spurt with an RBI single which gave the Jacks a 6-3 cushion.
The visitors opened the scoring when a single, stolen base and two groundouts produced a run in the top of the third.
BHS countered with two runs in the lower half of the inning when Erik Fitzgerald walked and stole second, James Hendricks delivered an RBI double and moved to third on a botched run-down situation, and Collin Rutledge plated Hendricks with a ground ball.
A pair of singles and two doubles combined for two runs in the Detroit Lakes fourth but, once again, Bemidji answered, this time with two runs in the lower half of the stanza.
Lucas began the rally by reaching on an error and gained second on a passed ball. Dan Johnson put runners at the corners with a single and Lucas scored on a fielder's choice grounder off Fitzgerald's bat. Johnson scored a few pitches later courtesy of Hendricks' ground ball.
The Lakers closed the scoring with a run in the seventh but BHS reliever Seth Anderson preserved the win by working out of a jam.
Matt Morgan started on the mound and earned the victory with four solid innings. Morgan and Anderson combined for six hits and three walks.
"Matt was efficient on the mound and Seth came in to get the save," Fogelson said. "This win will help us hang onto the No. 2 spot in the section. We're in a good position and we'll see what we can do Thursday against Brainerd."
The Lumberjacks will close their regular season at home Thursday with a doubleheader against the Warriors. Brainerd begins the week as the top seed in the section, as judged by the QRF figures, but a Bemidji sweep could vault BHS past the Warriors..
"We know that Brainerd is one of the top teams in the section and it is nice to have teams like Brainerd right before the playoffs," Fogelson said. "We probably will have to beat Brainerd at some point in the playoffs so it it great to be able to play them now and get a look at what we will be up against."
Ryan Hirt and Rutledge are the likely starting pitchers for Thursday's doubleheader.
Detroit Lakes 001 200 1 - 4 7 4
Bemidji 002 220 x - 6 10 2
Thompson (L) and Beck. K-2, BB-4
Morgan (W), Anderson (5, S) and Revering. K-6, BB-3