Legion splits with Brainerd
Prior to the summer those who follow Legion baseball in northern Minnesota predicted that a state tournament bid would go through Brainerd.
Based on the baseball tradition at Brainerd and the fact that the Warriors advanced to the high school state tournament, the prediction held merit.
Last week Bemidji faced Brainerd in the first leg of a home-and-home set and the Legion collected two victories. Wednesday they squads held the rematch in Brainerd and Bemidji managed a split, taking the opener 6-1 and dropping the nightcap 3-0.
Wednesday's results give the Legion a 19-9 record heading into this weekend's regular season-ending action at the Gopher Classic in the Twin Cities.
Bemidji will play at least five games over three days at the Gopher Classic. Today sees the Legion battling Minot at 4:30 p.m. and North St. Paul at 7 p.m.
Saturday's schedule finds Bemidji tangling with Rochester at 2 p.m. On Sunday the Legion will face Centennial (Lino Lakes) at 2 p.m. and Harrisonville, MO at 4:30 p.m.
Bemidji's pool-play games are set for North St. Paul.
The tournament features eight pools and the pool winners will return to action Monday. By the end of Monday a champion will be crowned.
Wednesday at Brainerd the Legion out-hit its host 21-7 in the doubleheader but managed only a split.
"We left 13 runners on base in the second game and that was the difference," said Bemidji coach Mike Fogelson. "We did everything right in both games. In the first game we found a way to get our runners home but in the second game we couldn't get the hit when we needed it."
Bemidji left the bases loaded three times in the rematch, including the first, fourth and seventh innings.
"We always had the table set and we kept wondering when the hit would come. But it never did," Fogelson said.
Kris Brandt was the hard-luck losing pitcher in Wednesday's nightcap. He worked into the fifth when Ryan Stevens relieved. The pair allowed only four hits. They did walk six, however.
In the opener Cody Rutledge and Collin Leif combined on a 3-hitter and benefitted from 14 Bemidji hits.
The game was scoreless until the Legion struck for three in the third. Singles by Booster Russ and Stevens opened the frame and they advanced on Jeremiah Graves' bunt. Russ scored when Mitch Hendricks singled and Leif's double plated Stevens. Hendricks then scored courtesy of Rutledge's single.
Bemidji upped its cushion to 5-1 in the fourth when Zach Solheim singled, Russ doubled and Stevens singled.
Singles by Stevens, Leif and Rutledge provided an insurance tally in the sixth.
Bemidji 003 201 0 - 6 14 1
Brainerd 001 000 0 - 1 3 0
Rutledge (W), Leif (7) and Leif, Graves (7). K-7, BB-6
Howard (L), Hegarty (4) and London. K-3, BB-1
Bemidji 000 000 0 - 0 7 3
Brainerd 020 010 x - 3 4 1
Berndt (L), Stevens (5) and Leif. K-0, BB-6
Peterson (W), Hegarty (7) (S) and Mimmack. K-6, BB-4