The Bemidji Blue Ox captured their opener in the North Border playoffs Tuesday night, winning 7-6 at Warroad.
The two teams meet at BSU Sunday at 2 with a second game to follow immediately should Warroad win.
The Sunday winner advances to a best of three series with Roseau to determine the seeds for the upcoming regional with both teams advancing.
The Ox scored five runs in the third to take a 5-3 lead but needed another pair in the fifth, then held off the late Warroad comeback which sent home two runs in the eighth and had the bases loaded in the ninth before the game ended.
Justin Huether, who blanked the Muskies here 3-0 last week, gave up seven hits Tuesday, fanning nine and walking three to get his second win of the year.
Bryce Demolee went the route for the Muskies surrendering 10 hits while fanning seven and walking one.
Singles by Ben Scheving, Friedrick and Brent Culleten, an error and a one bagger by Louden Nelson sent home three Warroad runs in the second.
Singles by Sol Schneider and Pat McSbarry opened the big Blue Ox third. A walk loaded the bases. With two gone, Colton Doty doubled home two and Nate Brown followed with a three-run homer to send Bemidji ahead.
Warroad cut the lead to 5-4 in the last of the frame on Adam Knebel's single, an error and ground out.
In the fifth, Smith singled with one gone and Brown followed with his second homer for a 7-4 lead. That was to prove the final serious threat for the visitors.
Warroad went quietly in the fifth, sixth and seventh as Huether completed a string of retiring 15 of 15 batters.
But in the eighth, a hit batter and walk put runners aboard with one out. They moved up on a ground out and both scored as Culleten reached on an error.
With one gone in the ninth, Ben Bengtson singled and Knebel walked. Demoloee followed with another single to load the bases.
But Huether fanned Scheving and got the final out on a force at second.
Smith had three hits and Brown and Schneider two for the Blue Ox who raised their season record to 10-12.
Cody Gross will throw Sunday's opener with the second pitcher, if needed, as yet undecided
Smith or Matt Fossen would be likely prospects with Huether also available.
Blue Ox 005-020-000---7--10--2
Huether (2-0) and C. Conway
Demolee and Culleten