Brainerd spoiled the season opener for the Bemidji baseball team Thursday night, posting a 7-6 win in Brainerd, but BHS coach Mike Fogelson will remember the way the Lumberjacks battled back from an early deficit to give the Warriors all they could handle.
"We gave up five runs in the first inning but rallied to tie it in the fifth," Fogelson said. "We wanted to win the game but we showed grit in how we came back. Even though we lost, we had many positives."
After spotting Brainerd the 5-0 cushion Bemidji scored three in the third to begin its comeback. Mason Bellew started the rally with a single and, an out later, Matt Hietala reached on an error.
Zach Solheim plated Bellew with a ground ball and Tyler Follis followed with an RBI double. Cody Rutledge completed the inning with a run-scoring single.
"The middle of our lineup, especially Tyler and Cody, had some huge at-bats for us," Fogelson said.
The duo had a hand in Bemidji's 3-run fifth which tied the game at 6-6.
With one out Mitch Hendricks singled and Hietala and Booster Ross were hit by pitches. Follis plated a pair with his double and, after Rutledge walked, Tyler Tatro drove home pinch runner Cole Bardwell with a groundout.
Brainerd regained the lead with a single run in the lower fifth and Bemidji was unable to find home plate in its final two at-bats.
Follis and Rutledge each had a pair of hits to lead the offense. Follis also contributed three RBI.
Jeremiah Graves started on the Lumberjacks mound and was touched for the five first-inning runs. Solheim allowed only one unearned run in 3.1 innings of work. Matt Schneider pitched the final two innings and was tagged with the loss.
The three pitchers combined for two walks and two strikeouts.
"I was happy to see how we battled back against a very good and veteran Brainerd team," Fogelson said. "Obviously, there are things we could have done better but overall we played well."
Bemidji will make its home debut Monday when it entertains Thief River Falls at 4:30 p.m.