BEMIDJI - A potent hitting attack and solid pitching powered the Bemidji Legion Post 14 baseball team to a pair of home victories Thursday, as Bemidji swept Perham 6-5 and 6-2 at the BSU diamond.
The Legion will take a 6-2 record into today's doubleheader at Grand Forks Red River. Cody Jenkins is scheduled to pitch today's 5 p.m. opener and Mitchell Hendricks is slated to start the second game.
Aaron Nissen and Trent Baker started on the mound Thursday night, and both pitched very well. Nissen took a 4-1 cushion into the top of the seventh in the first game but four errors on four consecutive infield plays enabled Perham to score four runs and take a 5-4 lead.
Collin Leif relieved Nissen with two outs in the inning and became the pitcher of record when Bemidji scored two runs in the bottom of the seventh to pull out the victory.
Baker didn't have to survive such dramatics in the nightcap, as he limited Perham to single runs in the second and third innings. Defensively the Legion committed only one error in the second game and the miscue did not cause any damage.
"Aaron pitched very well in the opener and deserved something better than a no-decision," said Bemidji coach Mike Fogelson. "He mixed his pitches extremely well and stayed in control.
"And it's nice to have Trent with us for the summer," the coach continued. "Both Aaron and Trent add depth to an already strong staff."
Bemidji took a 2-1 lead in the second inning of the first game when Leif walked, Jenkins and Mason Bellew followed with singles and Nick Conner drove in Jenkins with a ground ball.
In the sixth inning Bemidji upped its advantage to 4-1 when Hendricks and Leif singled and Jenkins belted a 2-run double.
Perham took the lead in the top of the seventh on a double, single and four Legion errors.
But Bemidji answered in its half of the stanza. Zach Solheim singled to begin the rally and Nick Hovila bunted him to second. Connor McNallan drove in Solheim with a double and Hendricks ended the game with an RBI single.
Nissen and Leif combined for five strikeouts and did not walk a batter.
In the nightcap, Baker showed his dominance from the outset as he struck out the first two batters on six pitches. The visitors did touch him for single runs in the second and third innings but Bemidji tied the game with two in the lower third.
Singles by McNallan and Hendricks set the table for the big inning and Bemidji used a wild pitch, a passed ball and Jenkins' single to score two runs.
Dom Hayle's single, Hovila's groundout and McNallan's double produced a run in the fourth, and Bemidji settled the issue with three in the sixth.
Ryan Hirt began the rally with a single to center and advanced to second when Hayle's fly ball to right was dropped. Hovila loaded the bases with a single to left and an out later Hendricks plated the lead run with a sacrifice fly to the left-field screen.
Leif added two key insurance runs when he singled to right.
"I liked everything about that second game," Fogelson said. "Baker struck out 11, we had 12 hits and ripped four or five other hard line drives, and we had only one throwing error. I think that was our best game of the summer so far."
Bemidji's next home appearance will be Monday when it hosts Brainerd for a doubleheader starting at 5 p.m.
Perham 100 000 4 - 5 8 1
Legion 020 002 2 - 6 13 5
Sazama (L) and Lindberg, K-2, BB-1
Nissen, Leif (7, W) and Leif, Hayle (7). K-5, BB-0
Perham 011 000 0 - 2 6 1
Legion 002 103 x - 6 12 1
Nodsle (L) and Lindberg. K-1, BB-0
Baker (W) and Leif. K-11, BB-2