Baseball: Bemidji improves to 9-2 after sweeping TRF
BEMIDJI -- It has been a season and a half since Ryan Hirt took the mound at the BSU diamond. The Bemidji left-handed pitcher missed all of last season with an elbow injury and his turn in the rotation hadn't come up in the 2014 campaign.
Hirt's absence on the BSU mound finally ended Thursday, and he made the most of his return. The senior tossed a nifty 3-hitter to lead BHS to a 5-0 victory over Thief River Falls.
The win capped a doubleheader sweep which included a 12-3 win in the opener.
Thursday's victories, which came under the continued miserable weather conditions that have been the norm and not the exception this spring, upped Bemidji's record to 9-2. The Lumberjacks will hope to improve on that mark at 4:30 p.m. today when they entertain Hibbing.
"It was nice to see Ryan on our mound in Bemidji once again," said BHS coach Mike Fogelson. "It is nice for us to have the 1-A and 1-B pitching punch with Ryan and Collin Rutledge. Both of them threw very well Thursday as they have all year."
Rutledge went the distance in Thursday's opener, allowing only four hits despite having to pitch a couple of innings in a steady rain. The drops held off in the nightcap but the temperature steadily dropped all game long and when the final pitch was thrown the fans, players and coaches were shivering.
"It's nice that the weather cleared for the second game," Hirt said. "I felt good on the mound. My fastball was working and they were behind it most of the game.
"My speed is back," Hirt continued. "In the first few games it was tough to throw hard because of the cold weather but it wasn't too bad on Thursday and I could get my fast ball going."
Hirt had a no-hitter through four innings but in the top of the fifth the Prowlers snapped the no-hit bid with a dribbler past the mound that never left the infield grass. In the sixth inning Thief River Falls had a bunt single and the only other hit Hirt allowed was another dribbler in front of the plate in the seventh.
Collectively the three Thief River Falls hits traveled less than 90 feet.
The Lumberjacks fared better when they were at the plate as Bemidji had eight hits and profited from seven TRF errors.
Among the miscues was a throwing error in the first inning which gave Bemidji its second run. With two out in the frame Rutledge walked, stole second and scored courtesy of James Hendricks' single to right. Hirt singled Hendricks to third and Hendricks scored on the play when the throw to the infield was botched.
Tom Revering's double, an errant pickoff throw and Austin Weidemann's single combined for a run in the fourth and BHS iced the victory with a pair in the sixth.
With two out Hendricks reached on another infield boot and stole second. He scored when Hirt singled to center and, after a wild pitch, pinch-runner Seth Anderson scored when Revering singled to center.
Revering ripped a double and a single and Hirt had a pair of singles to pace the offense.
In Thursday's opener the Jacks took control with a 7-run first inning and coasted to the wn. The big start included Lucas Goins' 3-run double, Dan Johnson's 2-run double and single, Erik Fitzgerald's double and single plus singles by Hendricks and Revering.
Hirt's single, Revering's double and a passed ball combined for a run in the second and Goins' single, two errors and two walks combined for three runs in the fourth.
Rutledge struck out eight and walked four in his complete-game outing. Fitzgerald finished with two doubles and a single, Johnson ripped a double and two singles, Revering contributed a double and a single and Hendricks added a pair of singles.
"These were two good wins," Fogelson said. "We need to keep winning so we can try and earn home field in some of the section playoff games. Every win counts."
TRF 000 300 0 - 3 4 4
Bemidji 710 301 x - 13 15 3
Merrill (L), Stemes (5) and L.Sanders. K-2, BB-2
Rutledge (W) and Revering. K-8, BB-44
TRF 000 000 0 - 0 3 7
Bemidji 200 120 x - 5 8 0
L.Sanders (L) and C.Sanders. K-2, BB-1
Hirt (W) and Revering. K-8, BB-4