Bemidji Legion belts Brainerd
BEMIDJI - Trent Baker and Connor McNallan combined on a 5-hitter Wednesday to lead the Bemidji Legion team to a 9-2 victory over Brainerd in a make-up of the game lost to the July 2 storm.
Wednesday's victory gave Bemidji a 14-5-1 record and the second seed in next week's sub-district tournament. Little Falls, which won three of its four games against Bemidji, will be the top seed and will host Bemidji and Brainerd for the three-team tournament on July 19-20.
The Legion jumped to a quick lead Wednesday, scoring two runs in the first inning and five in the second. Bemidji increased its cushion to 9-0 with a pair in the third but could not push that 10th run across.
Brainerd scored its two runs in the fifth.
Mitchell Hendricks set the table in the first inning with a one-out single. After Cody Rutledge was hit by a pitch Collin Leif's single to right plated Hendricks and advanced Rutledge to third.
Cody Jenkins followed with a sacrifice fly to left field and Bemidji was on its way.
The Legion iced the game with five runs in the second. Ryan Hirt began the rally with a one-out single to right and raced to third when Nick Hovila grounded to third and the Brainerd defense botched an attempted force out at second, throwing the relay into right field.
Hovila promptly stole second and both runners scored when Hendricks doubled to center. Following a walk to Rutledge Leif delivered his second RBI single of the game and an out later Mason Bellew plated two more runs with a double to center.
Hirt was hit by a pitch in the third and Hovila followed with a single and both runners scored when Rutledge drilled a two-out double to the center field screen.
The 9-0 lead was more than enough for Baker and McNallan. Baker went five innings on the mound. The right-hander struggled in the fifth, issuing three walks and allowing three hits. Prior to that, however, Brainerd never advanced a runner past second.
McNallan tossed two scoreless and hitless innings. The two pitchers combined for four strikeouts.
Hendricks and Bellew each contributed a double and a single to power Bemidji's offense. Leif added a pair of singles.
Bemidji returns to action Friday when it heads to the Twin Cities for the 80-team Gopher Classic. The tournament features three days of pool play and the pool winners will advance to the championship round on Monday and Tuesday.
Brainerd 000 020 0 - 2 5 1
Legion 252 000 x - 9 10 0
Hanson (L) and Stall. K-2, BB-3
Hirt (W), McNallan (6) and Leif, Buckanaga (4). K-4, BB-7