Mudcats upend Duluth, back in pennant race
The Bemidji Mudcats leaped back into the Arrowhead League pennant chase Sunday, sweeping a double header over the Duluth Xpress at Duluth.
It lifted Bemidji to 9-3 in league play with Duluth 8-3 in games reported.
Hibbing, Nashwauk and Grand Rapids trail.
Saturday's twin bill at Hibbing was rained out and rescheduled for last night but cancelled when the Hibbing diamond was being readied for the American Legion state tournament which opens Thursday.
The sweep was more remarkable considering Bemidji was without its top two hurlers, Tyler Norland and Keenan Humphrey.
Lefty Keenan Humphrey and righty Kevin Murphy stepped into the breach to gain the wins, Simon Anderson finishing the second game for Murphy in the fifth inning.
Humphrey, the Hamline sophomore, went the route in the first game, allowing five hits while fanning six and walking the same number.
The Xpress took a 2-0 lead in the second with two gone on two walks and Jake Nystrom's double.
Nystrom held the lead into the fourth when the Mudcats scored once on singles by Tony Klaers and Kyle Figgins and Neil Huewe's squeeze bunt.
They won the game with four in the sixth.
Brent Magnuson opened with a single and scored on Huewe's force out after a walk.
Brian Murphy followed with another one bagger and Andrew Hengel sent home the go ahead run with a double.
Billy Statton then singled in the final two runs.
Humphrey took over from there, allowing one hit in each of the final two frames but no runs.
Bemidji's seven hits came from as many different batters. Retka had two of the Duluth five.
Bats come alive
The Mudcats' bats came alive in the second game, pounding out 16 hits and never trailing.
Each team scored twice in the first, Bemidji on singles by Magnuson and Klaers, Figgins' double and a sacrifice fly.
Duluth answered on Murray's two-run homer.
But the Cats scored four in third to take charge.
Magnuson singled, Klaers doubled and one baggers by Figgins and Huewe sent home two.
Two outs later, Statton doubled in two more.
Duluth answered with an unearned run on an error, Tom Juberian's single and Murray's double.
Bemidji added two insurance runs in the sixth on Statton's second double, Kevin Murphy's single, a double by Anderson that scored Statton and Magnuson's single that plated Murphy.
Murphy worked into the fifth, leaving after issuing a pair of walks.
Anderson relieved to walk another batter but get the final two outs on a strikeout and fly, leaving the bases loaded.
He retired the side in order in the sixth but gave up a run in the seventh on two walks and Murray's single.
Magnuson, Klaers and Statton all had three hits for the Mudcats. Figgins had two as all nine players had at least one.
Murray had three of the Duluth six with the bottom five batters going hitless.
The win was the first for the younger Murphy who graduated from Remer High School this year.
The Cats host the Brainerd Bees tomorrow at 6 in a double header and are listed to make up two postponements at Grand Rapids Saturday.
A new date for Hibbing has yet to be set.
Bemidji hosts the Region 6B tournament in August.
Duluth Xpress 020-000-0---2--5--1
Humphrey (3-2) and Statton
Nystrom and Jasierski
Duluth Xpress 201-000-1---4-- 6--1
K. Murphy (1-0), Si. Anderson (5) and Statton
Wuori and Jasierski