BEMIDJI - The Blue Ox is in the driver's seat for winning the Lake and Pine League playoff championship after claiming a pair of games over the weekend.
On Saturday Bemidji stopped Leech Lake 11-0 and Cass Lake defeated Nevis. Sunday afternoon Nevis eliminated Leech Lake while the Blue Ox advanced to the playoff title game with a 13-3 home victory over Cass Lake.
Saturday the playoff scene continues at the Bemidji State University diamond when Nevis will tangle with Cass Lake in an elimination game. That winner will play the Blue Ox in the title game. If Bemidji loses, the teams will stage a rematch.
The Nevis-Cass Lake contest is tentatively scheduled for noon.
Bemidji and either Nevis or Cass Lake will advance to the region tournament which begins Aug. 4 at BSU. Joining the top two teams from the Lake and Pine League will be the top two squads from the Northwest Border and the Norman-Polk leagues.
The Blue Ox spotted Cass Lake a 1-0 lead in the top of the third inning Sunday but in the lower fourth Bemidji took charge with five runs.
Chris Conway began the rally with a single and, after Duane Biehn walked, Joel Conway bunted the runners up a base. Josh Kelsey followed with an RBI single and walks to Nolan Coyle and Matt Baier set the table for Bryan Jamieson's 2-run single. Another two runs scored with the help of errors.
The Blue Ox expanded its cushion with three in the fifth. The stanza featured singles by Joel Conway and Kelsey, an error and Baier's RBI groundball.
Ryan Sander opened the 5-run sixth with a double and promptly scored courtesy of Landon Harris' single. The inning also included RBI singles by Chris Conway and Coyle.
Sander went the distance on the Blue Ox mound, fanning five and walking only one. Kelsey had three hits to lead the offense. Baier, Jamieson and Chris Conway each ripped a pair.
Bemidji will take a 17-3 record into next weekend's action.
Cass Lake 001 000 2 - 3 6 4
Blue Ox 000 535 x - 13 13 4
Hanson (L), Humphrey (6) and Fairbanks.K-4, BB-6
Sander (W) and C.Conway. K-5, BB-1