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Bemidji takes 17-2 record to Gopher Classic

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With the top seed in the sub-district tournament and home field advantage secured the Bemidji Legion baseball team can turn its attention to this weekend's Gopher Classic tournament in the Twin Cities.

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The event will feature 66 teams in 11 pools at 11 different sites and each team will play the other five in its pool during the next three days.

The 11 pool champions and five wild-card teams among the runners-up will advance to a single-elimination event beginning Monday. The championship is set for Tuesday afternoon.

"This is an invitation-only tournament and it took us three years to be among the teams invited," said Legion coach Mike Fogelson. "In the six years we've been playing in the tournament we've never made it to Monday. And that is our goal this year."

That goal appears to be attainable as Bemidji enters the weekend 17-2 and ranked No. 11 in the state Legion poll.

The other Minnesota teams in Bemidji's pool are No. 16 Apple Valley, which also is hosting the bracket, No. 20 Minneapolis Southwest and No. 22 Mankato.

Completing the pool are Mitchell, S.D. and Meridian, Idaho.

"As a program we always want to play the best competition and this tournament provides that opportunity," Fogelson said. "It attracts the top teams in Minnesota and tournament officials make it a point to find and invite the best teams from other states.

"You have to be a great baseball program to be invited to this tournament."

Wednesday night the Legion swept Brainerd 4-1 and 16-15 at Brainerd to finish 11-1 among sub-district foes.

Brainerd will finish second in the sub-district as it owned a 5-5 record with two games to play. Trailing the pack are Little Falls and Nisswa.

The double-elimination sub-district tourney is scheduled for Tuesday through Thursday and Bemidji will be the home site. It is possible that Walker, Aitkin or both could be moved to Bemidji's district, however, so Fogelson is in the process of devising brackets for four, five and six teams.

Wednesday at Brainerd Trent Baker pitched a complete game to lead Bemidji to a 4-1 in the opener. He allowed only three hits and struck out four.

Bemidji scored twice in the first inning as Collin Leif doubled, Tyler Follis singled, Cody Rutledge doubled home the lead runner and Mason Bellew plated Follis with a ground ball.

Rutledge upped the cushion to 3-0 in the upper fifth with a home run and an error on Nick Conner's grounder, Baker's bunt and Leif's single combined for an insurance tally in the sixth.

Rutledge finished with a double and a home run. Leif had two doubles and a single and Jenkins a single and a double.

The rematch was a crazy affair which saw the home team score 10 runs in the second to forge an 11-1 lead only to see the Legion rally with a pair of five-run innings to tie and eventually tally the winning run in the eighth.

Bemidji actually opened the scoring when Bellew was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded in the first frame.

Brainerd tied it with a single tally in its half of the first and took charge with 10 in the second.

The Legion began its comeback in the third as Follis reached on an error, Rutledge tripled and Jenkins doubled.

Bemidji scored five in the fourth with the key blow being Rutledge's two-run home run.

Single runs in the sixth and seventh brought Bemidji within 12-10 but Brainerd seemingly regained control with three in the bottom of the sixth.

Bemidji, however, scored five in the upper seventh to tie the game. Singles by Leif, Follis and Rutledge filled the sacks and Bellew emptied the bases with a double. Bellew was nailed at third trying to stretch his hit into a triple but with two outs Dom Hayle kept the rally alive by reaching on an error and Conner followed with a home run.

Leif produced the game-winner in the upper eighth when he ripped a home run to left.

Mitchell Hendricks, who relieved in the fifth inning, retired Brainerd in order in the bottom of the eighth to preserve the win.

Rutledge had a career game with a home run, triple and three singles.

Leif contributed a home run and two singles while Jenkins had a pair of doubles, Follis and Bellew each belted a double and a single, Conner smacked a home run and a single and Baker and Hayle contributed two singles.

Wednesday's Games

First Game

Bemidji 200 011 0 - 4 8 0

Brainerd 000 010 0 - 1 3 1

Baker (W, 6-0) and Leif. K-4, BB-3

Peterson (L) and Stall. K-3, BB-2

Second Game

Bemidji 1 0 2 511 51 - 16 22 3

Brainerd 1(10)0 103 00 - 15 13 3

Bellew, Hayle (2), Hendricks (5) (W 1-1) and Hayle, Leif (2)

Hegarty, Thiesse (6) (L) and London. K-6, BB-2

Gopher Classic

Bemidji's Round-Robin Schedule

At Apple Valley

Today's Games

10 a.m.: Mankato vs. Bemidji

3 p.m.: Bemidji vs. Meridian, Idaho

Saturday's Games

3 p.m.: Bemidji vs. Apple Valley

5:30 p.m.: Bemidji vs. Mitchell, S.D.

Sunday's Game

9 a.m.: Minneapolis Southwest vs. Bemidji

Y pmiller@bemidjipioneer.com

With the top seed in the sub-district tournament and home field advantage secured the Bemidji Legion baseball team can turn its attention to this weekend's Gopher Classic tournament in the Twin Cities.

The event will feature 66 teams in 11 pools at 11 different sites and each team will play the other five in its pool during the next three days.

The 11 pool champions and five wild-card teams among the runners-up will advance to a single-elimination event beginning Monday. The championship is set for Tuesday afternoon.

"This is an invitation-only tournament and it took us three years to be among the teams invited," said Legion coach Mike Fogelson. "In the six years we've been playing in the tournament we've never made it to Monday. And that is our goal this year."

That goal appears to be attainable as Bemidji enters the weekend 17-2 and ranked No. 11 in the state Legion poll.

The other Minnesota teams in Bemidji's pool are No. 16 Apple Valley, which also is hosting the bracket, No. 20 Minneapolis Southwest and No. 22 Mankato.

Completing the pool are Mitchell, S.D. and Meridian, Idaho.

"As a program we always want to play the best competition and this tournament provides that opportunity," Fogelson said. "It attracts the top teams in Minnesota and tournament officials make it a point to find and invite the best teams from other states.

"You have to be a great baseball program to be invited to this tournament."

Wednesday night the Legion swept Brainerd 4-1 and 16-15 at Brainerd to finish 11-1 among sub-district foes.

Brainerd will finish second in the sub-district as it owned a 5-5 record with two games to play. Trailing the pack are Little Falls and Nisswa.

The double-elimination sub-district tourney is scheduled for Tuesday through Thursday and Bemidji will be the home site. It is possible that Walker, Aitkin or both could be moved to Bemidji's district, however, so Fogelson is in the process of devising brackets for four, five and six teams.

Wednesday at Brainerd Trent Baker pitched a complete game to lead Bemidji to a 4-1 in the opener. He allowed only three hits and struck out four.

Bemidji scored twice in the first inning as Collin Leif doubled, Tyler Follis singled, Cody Rutledge doubled home the lead runner and Mason Bellew plated Follis with a ground ball.

Rutledge upped the cushion to 3-0 in the upper fifth with a home run and an error on Nick Conner's grounder, Baker's bunt and Leif's single combined for an insurance tally in the sixth.

Rutledge finished with a double and a home run. Leif had two doubles and a single and Jenkins a single and a double.

The rematch was a crazy affair which saw the home team score 10 runs in the second to forge an 11-1 lead only to see the Legion rally with a pair of five-run innings to tie and eventually tally the winning run in the eighth.

Bemidji actually opened the scoring when Bellew was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded in the first frame.

Brainerd tied it with a single tally in its half of the first and took charge with 10 in the second.

The Legion began its comeback in the third as Follis reached on an error, Rutledge tripled and Jenkins doubled.

Bemidji scored five in the fourth with the key blow being Rutledge's two-run home run.

Single runs in the sixth and seventh brought Bemidji within 12-10 but Brainerd seemingly regained control with three in the bottom of the sixth.

Bemidji, however, scored five in the upper seventh to tie the game. Singles by Leif, Follis and Rutledge filled the sacks and Bellew emptied the bases with a double. Bellew was nailed at third trying to stretch his hit into a triple but with two outs Dom Hayle kept the rally alive by reaching on an error and Conner followed with a home run.

Leif produced the game-winner in the upper eighth when he ripped a home run to left.

Mitchell Hendricks, who relieved in the fifth inning, retired Brainerd in order in the bottom of the eighth to preserve the win.

Rutledge had a career game with a home run, triple and three singles.

Leif contributed a home run and two singles while Jenkins had a pair of doubles, Follis and Bellew each belted a double and a single, Conner smacked a home run and a single and Baker and Hayle contributed two singles.

Wednesday's Games

First Game

Bemidji 200 011 0 - 4 8 0

Brainerd 000 010 0 - 1 3 1

Baker (W, 6-0) and Leif. K-4, BB-3

Peterson (L) and Stall. K-3, BB-2

Second Game

Bemidji 1 0 2 511 51 - 16 22 3

Brainerd 1(10)0 103 00 - 15 13 3

Bellew, Hayle (2), Hendricks (5) (W 1-1) and Hayle, Leif (2)

Hegarty, Thiesse (6) (L) and London. K-6, BB-2

Gopher Classic

Bemidji's Round-Robin Schedule

At Apple Valley

Today's Games

10 a.m.: Mankato vs. Bemidji

3 p.m.: Bemidji vs. Meridian, Idaho

Saturday's Games

3 p.m.: Bemidji vs. Apple Valley

5:30 p.m.: Bemidji vs. Mitchell, S.D.

Sunday's Game

9 a.m.: Minneapolis Southwest vs. Bemidji

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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