Blue Ox advance to second round of playoffs
Baseball is a unique game.
In no other sport does the outcome of one game have as little effect on the next than on the diamond.
A change in pitchers, a change in fields and even a change in the weather can alter the outcome from game to game.
The Bemidji Blue Ox proved that point in spades Sunday.
Blasted 17-1 Friday night at Thief River, perhaps their worst setback in the team's five-year history, they dominated the Thieves at home, scoring an 8-1 decision to move to the next round of the Norman-Polk division play downs.
This week they will take on upstart Warroad in either a single game or best-of-three series. That winner moves to face the southern division winner, Ada, Crookston, East Grand Forks or Stephen-Argyle for the berth in the regional.
Warroad ousted regular-season champ Roseau in their series.
Bemidji and Warroad did not meet this summer, Warroad forfeiting all four games when it was unable to field a team.
Matt Fossen was never better than in Sunday's game, setting down the Thieves on seven singles, five in the final two innings. He struck out seven and walked three upping his record to 2-3.
Two of those losses, however, came by 1-0 and 2-1 scores, the 2-1 setback at Thief River early in the year.
Bemidji had nine hits off Thieves starter Kyle Larson and took advantage of some woeful defensive support to score five unearned runs.
Two four-run frames told the story.
In the first, Garrison Harris blooped a single over first and Bryan Jamieson was safe when Larson failed to field his bunt.
Larson retired the next two batters but two runs crossed as Chris Conway was safe on a two-base overthrow.
After a hit batter and another boot filled the bases, Sol Schneider singled to center to plate two more runs.
Conway singled to right to open the third and Jesse Jacobson walked. Duane Biehn singled home Conway and, after a sacrifice, Luke Burns singled in Jacobson.
A walk and Jamieson's single plated Biehn and Burns scored as Landon Harris forced his brother at third.
Larson pitched a scoreless fourth and fifth and Dan Kaushagen relieved to retire nine of the 10 batters he faced, issuing a two-out walk in the eighth.
Fossen took a no-hitter into the sixth when Lucas Genereux singled with one out. He escaped a leadoff single in the seventh and back-to-back singles to open the eighth, aided by a line drive comeback double play.
With one gone in the ninth, singles by Spencer Johnson, Tyler Norland and Larson produced the lone run. But a fly to right and strikeout ended the day.
Genereux and Johnson had two hits each for the Thieves. Garrison Harris and Biehn had two for the Ox.
The win lifted Bemidji to 12-11. Thief River ended 13-10 in its first season back on the diamond after a five-year hiatus.
Friday's game at Thief River was a different story.
The Thieves scored in every inning, pounding out 21 hits, many of the seeing-eye variety, and rolling up a 17-0 lead before Landon Harris' homer in the seventh prevented the shutout. The game, mercifully, ended two innings early.
Cody Conners worked the route on a nine-hitter. Jamieson was the starter and loser for the Blue Ox.
Blue Ox 000-000--1--- 1--- 9--0
Jamieson (1-3), Schneider (5) and Jacobson
Conners and Keefe
TRF 000-000-001-- -1--7--5
Blue Ox 404-000-00x---8--9---0
Larson (l), Kaushagen (6) and Keefe, Genereux (6)
Fossen (2-3) and C. Conway