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Bemidji advances to Section 8-3A final four round

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Bemidji advances to Section 8-3A final four round
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Dom Hayle walked with the bases loaded in the top of the seventh to force home pinch runner Nick Conner with the eventual winning run and help the Bemidji baseball team upset and eliminate second-seeded Big Lake 8-7 Monday in the second round of the 8-3A playoffs at Big Lake.

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The victory, which came on the heels of a 4-1 win over St. Cloud Tech earlier in the day, advanced the seventh-ranked Lumberjacks into the Section 8-3A final four and Friday's semifinal opener against Alexandria at the baseball complex in St. Cloud.

The third-seeded Cardinals advanced with an 8-2 victory over Sartell Monday.

Brainerd, which owns the section's top seed, also will head to St. Cloud Friday and it will play No. 5 Sauk Rapids which nipped fourth-rated St. Michael-Albertville 2-0 Monday.

The section's final four was originally scheduled for Saturday but was moved ahead to Friday to accommodate Bemidji's graduation ceremonies.

After eliminating St. Cloud Tech 4-1 in Monday's early game the Jacks had to face Big Lake. Bemidji struggled at the start and the home team took advantage of its opportunities to forge a 6-1 lead after two innings.

BHS starting pitcher Tyler Follis walked three in the opening stanza, one intentionally, and Brian Larson made him pay by delivering a 2-run single.

In the second inning two Bemidji errors opened the door for Joe Rathmanner's RBI single and Ryan Meyer's 3-run round-tripper.

"We were down 6-1 and the season was on the line. It was gut-check time," said Bemidji coach Mike Fogelson.

The Lumberjacks' initial run came in the first inning when consecutive singles by Mitchell Hendricks, Collin Leif and Follis were followed by Cody Jenkins' sacrifice fly.

But that tally seemed meaningless when Big Lake scored six consecutive runs.

"When we were behind 6-1 Tyler just bore down on the mound. He settled in and gave us the chance to mount a comeback," Fogelson said.

Follis found his groove after Meyer's blast and the senior retired 14 of the next 15 batters. That performance bought enough time for Bemidji's offense to work its magic.

The comeback began in the third when Hayle reached on an error, Hendricks singled him to third and Jenkins drove him in.

BHS manufactured another run in the third when Sam Dwyer and Hayle singled and Dwyer scored when Hendricks' grounder was booted.

The key inning, however, was the sixth and, once again, the bottom of the lineup set the table.

With one out Zach Solheim walked and Hayle coaxed a free pass an out later.

Hendricks followed with an RBI double and Leif ripped a shot to center for a 2-run double. Follis capped the inning with a booming triple which scored pinch-runner Brandon Larson.

The rally was now complete but Bemidji was able to scratch home an insurance tally in the upper seventh when Mason Bellew and Solheim singled and Dwyer and Hayle walked.

That run proved vital as Big Lake touched Follis for a single run in the bottom of the seventh.

"All the way through the lineup everybody contributed to this win," Fogelson said. "We were behind just about the entire game but we just kept plugging and plugging.

"The bottom of our lineup was fabulous," the coach continued. "We showed heart with the way we battled back."

Monday's opener matched the seventh-seeded Lumberjacks against No. 10 St. Cloud Tech and, as Fogelson expected, the 4-1 win did not come easily.

"All the teams in our section are evenly matched and anybody can win any game," the coach said. "Tech is a very good team and I was happy to get by them in the first round."

Solheim went the distance on the mound and limited St. Cloud Tech to only six hits. The Tigers, however, took a 1-0 lead in the second inning on two singles and a Bemidji error.

BHS responded with a crooked number in the third inning. Leif began the rally with a double and, after Follis was hit by a pitch, Jenkins contributed an RBI single and Rutledge delivered a 2-run double.

Bemidji added an insurance marker in the sixth on Bellew's single, a balk, wild pitch and Dwyer's single.

"It was good to see the guys come back and win these two games," Fogelson said. "I think the section tournament is wide open and Friday should be fun."

St.Cloud Tech 010 000 0 - 1 6 0

Bemidji 003 001 x - 4 7 3

Lommel (L), Baker, (5) and Gagliardi. K-8, BB-2

Solhiem (W) and Leif. K-6, BB-2

Bemidji 101 104 1 - 8 12 3

Big Lake 240 000 1 - 7 4 3

Follis (W) and Leif. K-1, BB-6

Greenwaldt, Meyer (L) (5), Kimmer (6), Larson (7) and Hoaby. K-2, BB-5

Section 8-3A Tournament

Monday's Results

Monticello 2, Moorhead 1, 8 innings

Bemidji 4, St. Cloud Tech 1

Sartell 5, St. Cloud Apollo 2

Brainerd 5, Monticello 1

Sauk Rapids 2, St. Michael-Albertville 0

Bemidji 8, Big Lake 7

Alexandria 8, Sartell 2

Friday's Games

At St. Cloud

Game 1: Brainerd vs. Sauk Rapids.

Game 2: Bemidji vs. Alexandria

Game 3: Game 1 winner vs. Game 2 winner, 2 p.m.

Game 4: Game 1 loser vs. Game 2 loser, 2 p.m. (loser eliminated)

June 7

At St. Cloud

Game 5: Game 4 winner vs. Game 3 loser, 4 p.m. (loser eliminated)

Game 6: Game 3 winner vs. Game 5 winner, 7 p.m.

June 8

At St. Cloud

Game 7: Repeat of game 13, 7 p.m. (if necessary)

Y pmiller@bemidjipioneer.com

Monday's opener matched the seventh-seeded Lumberjacks against No. 10 St. Cloud Tech and, as Fogelson expected, the 4-1 win did not come easily.

"All the teams in our section are evenly matched and anybody can win any game," the coach said. "Tech is a very good team and I was happy to get by them in the first round."

Solheim went the distance on the mound and limited St. Cloud Tech to only six hits. The Tigers, however, took a 1-0 lead in the second inning on two singles and a Bemidji error.

BHS responded with a crooked number in the third inning. Leif began the rally with a double and, after Follis was hit by a pitch, Jenkins contributed an RBI single and Rutledge delivered a 2-run double.

Bemidji added an insurance marker in the sixth on Bellew's single, a balk, wild pitch and Dwyer's single.

"It was good to see the guys come back and win these two games," Fogelson said. "I think the section tournament is wide open and Friday should be fun."

St.Cloud Tech 010 000 0 - 1 6 0

Bemidji 003 001 x - 4 7 3

Lommel (L), Baker, (5) and Gagliardi. K-8, BB-2

Solhiem (W) and Leif. K-6, BB-2

Bemidji 101 104 1 - 8 12 3

Big Lake 240 000 1 - 7 4 3

Follis (W) and Leif. K-1, BB-6

Greenwaldt, Meyer (L) (5), Kimmer (6), Larson (7) and Hoaby. K-2, BB-5

Section 8-3A Tournament

Monday's Results

Monticello 2, Moorhead 1, 8 innings

Bemidji 4, St. Cloud Tech 1

Sartell 5, St. Cloud Apollo 2

Brainerd 5, Monticello 1

Sauk Rapids 2, St. Michael-Albertville 0

Bemidji 8, Big Lake 7

Alexandria 8, Sartell 2

Friday's Games

At St. Cloud

Game 1: Brainerd vs. Sauk Rapids.

Game 2: Bemidji vs. Alexandria

Game 3: Game 1 winner vs. Game 2 winner, 2 p.m.

Game 4: Game 1 loser vs. Game 2 loser, 2 p.m. (loser eliminated)

June 7

At St. Cloud

Game 5: Game 4 winner vs. Game 3 loser, 4 p.m. (loser eliminated)

Game 6: Game 3 winner vs. Game 5 winner, 7 p.m.

June 8

At St. Cloud

Game 7: Repeat of game 13, 7 p.m. (if necessary)

pmiller@bemidjipioneer.com

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Pat Miller

Pat Miller is the sports editor at the Pioneer.

(218) 333-9200
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