Mudcats close out strong, beat Blue Ox for City title
The Bemidji Mudcats staged a pair of three-run innings late in the game Wednesday night to overcome the Blue Ox 6-3 in the third and deciding game of the City Series.
It marked the third straight year the Class B team prevailed but the first time that the series was extended to the third game. Each team had taken a one run decision earlier.
The Blue Ox led through much of the night, taking a 2-0 lead into the seventh.
But the Cats scored three times in that frame to go ahead, only to see the Blue Ox tie it in the last of the frame.
But the Mudcats added another three in the ninth and made that lead stand up.
It lifted the Mudcats to 23-9-1 entering Region 6B playoff action Friday when they face Nashwauk at 7:30 at Grand Rapids' Legion Field in an opening round game.
The Blue Ox ended a disappointing season 11-14, unable to compete at the 12C regional for a lack of bodies.
For six frames Matt Fossen was the big story of the night.
The BSU sophomore took a shutout into the seventh, allowing only three hits.
His mates staked him to a 2-0 lead in the fourth off Matt Stasch when Dan Bennett singled, Joel Conway walked, both advanced on a ground out and scored on Auston Zetah's line single down the left field line.
Fossen retired the first two batters to start the seventh, the sixth time he had accomplished that feat and the seventh time he retired the first batter in a frame.
But he made the cardinal error of walking the No. 8 and 9 batters and Dan Bauer made him pay with a ringing double off the left center field fence to score both.
Cody Gross relieved at this juncture and the go ahead run scored as Neil Huewe reached on a wild throw.
But the Blue Ox, which had stranded a pair in the sixth, tied the score in the seventh off Sam Anderson when Thor Josefson walked, took third on Justin Huether's single and scored on a hit by Nate Brown.
They stranded another pair in the eighth and paid the price when the Cats launched their winning rally in the ninth.
With one gone, Andrew Hengel opened the surge with a booming triple to the right center field fence and scored as Bauer b bounced a single through the left side, his fourth hit of the game.
Huewe singled and with two outs, pinch runner Scott Seaton scored as Dan Nolan reached on an error. Jeff Schaper followed with a one bagger to plate the third run.
Bauer shut down the Ox in the last of the frame despite a walk, to preserve the win.
Anderson got the win, his second in three decisions. Schaper had two hits to join Bauer as the only multiple hitters for the winners. Brown and Zetah had two for the Blue Ox.
Tyler Norland will go in the opener Friday with Fenner working the second game Saturday.
Blaine joins the five Arrowhead League teams this year for the first time and is considered the team to beat.
The top two teams advance to the state meet.