Jeff Schaper powered a high curve ball well over the green monster Friday night to lift the Bemidji Mudcats to a 6-5 victory over Nimrod.
The Cats battled back from a 4-0 deficit in the third inning to tie the score in the sixth and avoid constant threats by the visitors down the stretch.
Reliever Doug Shequen, the former Staples high star, came in to start the ninth as the third Nimrod hurler. He retired the first two batters easily. But he hung a curve on his first pitch to Schaper and the big first sacker hung it over the highest sign on the green monster in deep left center field to send the Bemidji fans home happy.
It was not a well played game with each team committing four errors.
Bemidji had runners on base in every innings but was able to score in only four.
Nimrod went down in order in three of the first four frames but threatened constantly thereafter.
Doug Peterson was a surprise starter for Bemidji and retired the Gnats in order the first two frames.
But he lost the strike, zone in the third walking four of the first five batters he faced to force home a run.
After a force at home, Aaron Funk singled in two more and a single by Gunner Johnson made it 4-0.
Ryan Sander, the expected starter, came on to start the fourth and allowed only one unearned run the rest of the way, spacing three singles.
But the Cats struggled to catch up.
They scored in the last of the third when Sam Anderson walked and Dan Bauer singled. Neil Huewe advanced the pair with a sacrifice and Anderson crossed on a wild pitch.
Two more walks filled the bases but the promising rally ended when Andrew Hen gel's shot to third was turned into a force at home and Peterson fanned.
Bemidji drew within one with two in the fifth.
A hit batter and wild pickoff attempt was followed by a Paul Fenner single for one run. Fenner took second on the throw home and scored on Sander's double.
Nimrod made it 5-3 in the sixth when Johnson singled, was sacrificed to second and scored with two gone when Dylan Shequen reached on an overthrow.
Nimrod had runners on in the last three innings but failed to score again.
The Mudcats knotted the score in the sixth when Anderson reached on an error and Bauer singled. Huewe again moved them up with a sacrifice and both scored when Anderson was trapped between third and home on Dan Nolan's grounder but escaped when the ball was thrown into left field on the rundown.
Nolan reached second on the misplay but was stranded.
Nolan singled with two gone in the eighth and advanced on a wild pitch but was stranded again..
But Schaper ended the night on a happy note with his blast in the ninth.
Eight different Mudcats had hits with Bauer the only one with two.
The win lifted Bemidji to 9-4-1.
The Cats will play their semifinal game at 12:30 today against the winner of the early morning game between Wadena's Shockers and the Roseau Royals.
Ada and Dent played the lower bracket opener Friday night, a game that started at 9:30 an was still in progress at press time.
That winner goes against the Fort Ripley-Bemidji Blue Ox game which will be played at10 this morning at the Arena.
The semifinals are set for 12:30 and 3:00 on both fields. The final four games will be played tomorrow, the title game at 1:30 at BSU.
Fort Ripley is the defending champion.