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Cass Lake-Bena's Nolan Goss reacts after scoring the winning run against Blackduck as his teammates rush in to celebrate. Pioneer Photo/Eric Stromgren

Section 8A Baseball tournament: Cass Lake-Bena rallies to keep season alive

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The Cass Lake-Bena baseball team came close to winning the Section 8A East subsection tournament Friday with small ball and offense.

Fosston just brought a stronger offense in the championship game.

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The Greyhounds rallied from a five-run deficit to defeat the Panthers 10-8 at BSU Baseball Field in a game where the two teams combined for 27 hits.

Fosston had 17 hits.

"We're just able to string together hits," Fosston's Aanders Johnson said. "We've done it all year where we can get three or four runs in an inning and that's one of the things that makes us a good team."

Fosston (17-1) earned the top seed in the East with their second straight subsection title win and will face the West runner up in the Section 8A semifinals next Tuesday at Northland Community and Technical College.

Cass Lake-Bena's (16-6-1) season is still alive and the Panthers will face the West champion next Tuesday at NCTC. It marks the third straight season the Panthers have made it to the section final four.

"It was a fun game to play, but we'll be ready for next Tuesday," Cass Lake-Bena's Mike Hanson said.

Cass Lake-Bena and Fosston advanced to the title game during afternoon semifinal play at BSU.

Fosston opened at noon against Nevis and defeated the Tigers 13-3.

The Greyhounds led 5-3 after three innings and broke the game open with three runs in the fifth inning and five runs in the sixth inning.

Leading Fosston in the game was Garrett Carlin, who finished 2-for-3 with three runs scored and three RBIs. Nelson Papke was 3-for-4 with two runs scored and an RBI.

Dylan Stensberg scored two runs for Nevis and Garrett Edelman finished 2-for-3 with two RBIs.

Cass Lake-Bena followed with a 2-1 victory over Blackduck in a game that featured a dramatic finish.

Brett Mistic started the scoring in the top of the first inning, knocking home Brett Tjepkes to give the Drakes an early 1-0 lead.

Luke Binkley, a sophomore who picked up baseball two years ago, held off the Panthers offense for much of the game with a strong performance.

The Panthers hit the ball well but had trouble finding holes in the Drakes' defense.

Needing one run to extend its season, Cass Lake-Bena broke through in the bottom of the seventh with two runs to eliminate the Drakes.

And the Panthers won with small ball.

Hanson roped a shot along the left field line for a single and Nolan Goss legged out a bunt to give Cass Lake-Bena runners on first base and second base with no outs.

Brett Finn then gave the Panthers the run it needed when he scored Hanson from second. Finn's grounder went through the middle of the infield and past the outstretched glove of Blackduck second baseman Trevor Hoffman.

The hit moved Goss to third and Finn would later steal second.

With one out, Binkley threw a wild pitch and Goss was able to slide safely into home.

"We needed some things to happen and they did," Hanson said. "(Goss') bunt was really a smart play ."

It was a disappointing finish for Blackduck, but coach Rick Olhava and the players take comfort in the steps the team took forward this season.

"We had a great season. We started the season with the idea that we wanted to put pressure on teams this season and I think we were able to do that," Olhava said. "The team never quit."

The Drakes finished the season 14-6 after winning 10 games last season.

"I think the best part of this season was seeing the smiles of everyone in the dugout during that last inning," Blackduck senior Kyle Goodwin said. "I've been playing with these guys since T-ball."

Brett Mistic finished 1-for-3 with an RBI and a double for the Drakes.

Cass Lake-Bena pitcher Tyler Trosen pitched the complete game for the win. He finished with 13 strikeouts and three walks.

The championship game was a battle of the bats.

Fosston jumped out to the early lead and went up 3-0 after two innings.

But Cass Lake-Bena responded with four runs in each the third and fourth innings.

Jake Ellis, Finn, Trosen and Hanson all scored in the third. Hanson scored on a Fosston error to put the Panthers 4-3.

The top of the Cass Lake-Bena order again did the damage in the fourth.

Chad Wittner made it 5-3 Panthers when he scored on an error.

With two runners on base, Trosen hit his first home run of the season - a booming shot off Fosston starter Cooper Wilson over the left field fence to put the Panthers up 8-3.

Despite the lead, Johnson said the Greyhounds never felt out of the game.

"Whenever we go down like that, the first thing we need to do is get people smiling again, so we started telling some jokes," Johnson said. "We had to get people smiling or we weren't going to do good at the plate."

Starting with Steven Lyseng the top of the order in the fifth inning, the Greyhounds scored five runs on seven hits to tie the game at 8-8.

Fosston went ahead for good in the sixth.

Carlin lifted a bloop single into right field and scored Johnson to complete the comeback and make it 9-8 Greyhounds.

"We never hung our heads down and we just knew we had to get as many hits as possible," said Carlin, who had a team-high three hits in the game. "It was just a fastball and I threw my bat out there - I honestly thought the first baseman was going to catch it because I thought it was way too short."

Gavin Ross later scored an insurance run in the inning on Papke's single to put Fosston ahead 10-8.

The Panthers did not go down without a fight and were a hit away from tying the game in the final at-bat.

Hanson, Goss and Wittner all reached base. But Lyseng struck out Ellis with two outs to end the game.

"It was a fun game to be a part of," Hanson said. "Lyseng is a very good pitcher."

Lyseng entered the game with one out in the fourth inning after Trosen's home run and shut down the Panthers.

He struck out seven and only allowed two hits the rest of the way to earn the win.

Finn, Trosen and Wittner combined for five of Cass Lake-Bena's 10 hits in the game.

Nevis 102 000 0 - 2 2 3

Fosston 203 035 X - 13-10-0

Blackduck 100 000 0 - 1 4 1

Cass Lake-Bena 000 000 2 - 2 4 1

Cass Lake-Bena 004 400 0 - 8 10 0

Fosston 210 052 X - 10 17 5

Full box scores available in Friday's edition of The Bemidji Pioneer.

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