Northern Heat rallies to take regional opener
The Bemidji Northern Heat took its first step toward a hoped-for trip to the National Cal Ripken tournament in North Carolina when it defeated Mineral Springs, Mo. 4-3 in Thursday's regional tourney opener at Kalona, Iowa.
It moved the Heat into today's 5 p.m. semifinals against Yankton, S.D. or Mt. Pleasant, Iowa. Those two met in Thursday's second game.
The lower bracket openers pitted Kansas against Colorado and North Dakota's Grand Forks Warriors against Tri County South (Iowa).
Bemidji never led the Missouri foe until the last of the fifth when it scored once to break a 3-3 tie.
Earlier it had scored once to tie at 1-1 in the second and twice to knot the count at 3-3 in the fourth.
Right-hander James Swiggum celebrated his 13th birthday by going the route, spacing seven hits. Four came in the first two innings.
He yielded a run in the second which Bemidji matched it its turn at bat when Tarron Baker singled, took second on a wild pitch, stole third and scored when the throw to third got into left field.
Starting hurler Hayden Pakar sent his team back in front in the third when he followed a walk with a triple.
A key play followed when he tried to score on a ground out to second, only to have first baseman Baker nip him with a relay to Cam Boen at the plate for a double play.
Mineral Springs went ahead 3-1 in the fourth on a walk, sacrifice, passed ball and Brock O'Neal's single.
That was to be the loser's final run.
Bemidji got back into contention in its fourth. Erik Fitzgerald opened with a home run over the left-field fence.
Josh Cervenka singled, reached third on Boen's double and scored on Jack Johnson's sacrifice fly.
Nick Hainey relieved to open the fifth and became the loser when Tony Geerdes walked, took second on Fitzgerald's single and scored on a one-bagger by Baker.
Swiggum retired the first two batters in the sixth. Logan Garrett then pinch hit to blast a triple.
But Swiggum got the final batter to ground to first for the game-ending out.
Swiggum ended with eight strikeouts and three walks, all three leading off innings.
Two of those three scored.
Baker will take the mound today.
Mineral Springs 011 100 - 3 7 0
Northern Heat 010 21x - 4 6 2
Pakar. Hainey (L) (5) and Kater
Swiggum and Boen