Little Falls battled back from an 8-2 deficit in the late innings Thursday to overcome the Bemidji American Legion 10-8 and earn the first berth in the District 6 tournament next week at St. Cloud.
Bemidji played the night game against Nisswa or Brainerd for the second spot.Little Falls spanked Brainerd 15-2 in a second round game Wednesday at Little Falls.
Nisswa won the late game on its home diamond 16-10 over Park Rapids to stay alive.
The loser-out game was tied 2-2 in the fourth in the late afternoon contest..
The Little Falls game was a game Bemidji might easily have won.
But the youthful team committed six errors, staking Little Falls to four unearned runs and stranded 12 base runners.
Freshman Cody Rutledge lingered into the seventh and left during a five-run Little Falls frame that gave it the lead for the first time 9-8. It added an insurance run off sophomore Jeremiah Graves in the eighth.
Bemidji built an 8-2 lead in the sixth against Joe Rydeen with ace Riley Hirsch coming on to hurl three scoreless frames down the stretch and get the win.
Bemidji took a 2-0 lead in the first when Billy Statton followed a pair of walks with a double.
Little Falls got one back in the fourth on two hit batters around singles by Logan Kalis and Rydeen to force home a run.
Bemidji upped its lead to 5-2 in the fifth. Tyler Follis doubled and scored as Rutledge reached on an error. Singles by Statton and Tyler Tatro loaded the bases ands Rutledge scored as Paul Voss reached on another miscue, They were to be Little Falls' only errors of the game.
Little Falls got one back in the last of the fifth when two walks opened the door and one run scored as Pate Suska's infield single was thrown past first base.
But Bemidji countered with three more in the sixth when Graves doubled and scored on singles by Follis and Simon Anderson.
Singles by Statton and Tatro each drove home another tally.
But Hirscb came in to shut down Bemidji the final three frames and Little Falls bats came alive.
Two more scored in the sixth when Eddie Wenzel singled, Ryan Thilquist was hit by a pitch and Eli Ploof singled home a run. After another hit batter, Cody Waldvogel plated Thilquist with a sacrifice fly.
Bemidji's luck ended in the seventh.
Hirsch became the fifth hit batter of the game and Rydeen singled with one out. Wenzel reached on an error as Hirsch scored.
Singles by Thilquist and Ploof each scored a run and brought Graves to the mound. He walked Wenz to force home the tying run and the go ahead tally crossed as Suska reached on another error.
Rydeen's double and Thilquist's sacrifice fly plated the final run in the eighth.
Rydeen had three hits and Ploof two in the 10 hit Little Falls attack.
Statton and Tatro had three and Graves and Follis two for Bemidji which ended with13.
Bemidji turned three double plays but not enough to overcome the six errors.
"We were so close to winning," said Coach Mike Fogelson. "We battled them all the way and out hit them. But we'll just have to come back tonight and play better. We're still in the running for a district berth."
The loss dropped the Legion to 14-17. It started two freshmen and two sophomores in the starting lineup.