An ugly victory: Rutledge's blast gives BHS win
During the course of a 20-game regular season it is difficult for a high school baseball team to be at its peak every day.
Sometimes you have to win when things aren't going your way. Sometimes you have to find a way to win ugly.
Monday was one of those times for the Lumberjacks.
Bemidji managed only four hits against Warroad at the BSU diamond. Fortunately, one of them was a mammoth 2-run home run by Cody Rutledge in the fifth inning and the blast helped the Jacks improve to 9-1 with a 4-3 victory.
"We have a playing standard that everybody on this team is aware of," said Bemidji coach Mike Fogelson. "We expect to play to that standard every time we step onto the field. Today we won the game but we didn't play to that standard."
Warroad scored all of its runs in the top of the first inning off BHS starting pitcher Drew Peterson when a pair of walks and two infield errors set the table for an RBI single and a pair of run-scoring groundouts.
Warroad would not score again but Warrior pitcher Alan Pederson was able to protect that slim cushion most of the game.
The Lumberjacks cut their deficit to 3-1 in the lower first when Nick Hovila walked, Mitchell Hendricks singled him to third and Collin Leif delivered a sacrifice fly.
The home team drew within 3-2 in the third when Hovila coaxed his second free pass of the afternoon, Hendricks reached on an error and Rutledge singled home the lead runner.
Rutledge and Hendricks advanced to second and third with one out but the Lumberjacks bats were unable to bring them home.
The visitors had base runners in every inning but the seventh. They stranded men at first and second in the second stanza, left a runner at third in the third and had men die at first and second in the fourth, an inning that saw Hendricks relieve Peterson with two outs.
That pitching change proved profitable for Hendricks a few innings later as Hovila walked to open the lower fifth and Rutledge delivered his blast over the center field screen.
"That was a big home run late in the game," Fogelson said. "We were down by a run and Cody came in and ripped a no-doubter. He's been doing that all year for us."
Hendricks kept Warroad off the board during his 3.1 innings of work.
The senior capped his relief appearance by fanning five of the final eight batters he faced.
"Mitchell is our relief finisher," Fogelson said. "He is the guy out of the pen who has been available to close games so far this year. But now our schedule is getting busy and we'll use other pitchers out of the pen.
"We're 9-1 and that is where we were hoping to be at this stage," Fogelson continued. "We won this game but, no matter who we are playing, there is a level that we want to play at. And I don't think we got to that level (Monday)."
Bemidji returns to action Thursday when it travels to Sartell for a 4:30 p.m. start. When that game is over the Jacks will hop onto the bus and head to Sauk Rapids for a second contest.
Cody Jenkins and Ryan Hirt are expected to be the mound starters.
Warroad 300 000 0 - 3 3 2
Bemidji 101 020 x - 4 4 2
Pederson (L) and Sandahl. K-2, BB-4
Peterson, Hendricks (4, W) and Leif. K-7, BB-7