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Bemidji Blue Ox one win away from state tournament

ADA -- Ryan Sander's two-out single in the bottom of the ninth inning drove in Matt Baier and lifted the Bemidji Blue Ox men's amateur baseball team to a 3-2 win over Cass Lake late Saturday night in the elimination bracket of the Region 10-C tournament here.

Saturday's victory moved the Blue Ox within one win of a trip to the state Class C tournament. Bemidji and Moorhead will battle 1 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 10 in Ada and the winner will claim the a state tournament spot.

Roseau has already clinched a state berth as it is the lone team in the region tournament's winner's bracket. Roseau will meet the winner of the Blue Ox-Moorhead game and that victor will receive the region's top seed for the state meet. The loser will be the second seed from Region 10-C.

Last weekend at the region meet the Blue Ox lost 12-4 to Ada but nipped Crookston 6-5. Cass Lake opened its tournament with a 3-2 loss to Crookston but the Reds advanced with an 11-10 triumph over Ada.

Those results set up the Blue Ox-Cass Lake contest which Bemidji won 3-2.

Aaron Nissen worked the first eight innings of that game on the Blue Ox mound and scattered nine hits. Sander relieved in the ninth and was the winning pitcher when Bemidji scored in the bottom half of the stanza.

Cass Lake took the lead with a run in the sixth when Chad Wittner singled, gained second on Keenan Humphrey's grounder and scored on Brandon Beck's single.

The Blue Ox answered with a pair in its half of the sixth and Duane Biehn started the rally with a single. Biehn advanced on Sam Dwyer's groundout and took third on Joel Conway's single. Matt Schneider plated Biehn with a single and Conway scored courtesy of Nissen's single.

The 2-1 Bemidji lead continued into the ninth but the Reds eventually tied the game with the help of a double steal.

Taylor Humphrey opened the frame with a double and Nolan Goss came in to pinch-run.

A wild pitch moved Goss to third and Cass Lake had runners at the corners when Mike Hanson walked.

Hanson and Goss then worked a successful double-steal and Goss scored on the play. An out later Jake Ellis continued the threat with a single but Bemidji worked its way out of further trouble when Sander coaxed a fielder's choice grounder and a strikeout.

Bemidji countered in the bottom of the ninth and Sander eventually delivered the winning hit when his single plated Baier.

Sander and Joel Conway each had two hits for the Blue Ox. Humphrey and Ellis contributed three hits for Cass Lake and Kyle Fairbanks had a pair.

In earlier action the Blue Ox lost its opener 12-4 to Ada but stayed alive in the double-elimination tournament by tripping Crookston 6-5.

Ada took control early with two runs in the first inning and five in the second. The A's iced the win with a pair in the sixth and two more in the seventh.

The Blue Ox scored twice in the lower first when Baier walked, Sander singled and Biehn plated both runners with a single.

In the third the Blue Ox used a walk to Dwyer, Nissen's single and an error to score a run and its final tally came in the fourth when Joel Conway doubled and scored on two ground balls.

Sander, Chris Conway and Biehn had two hits for Bemidji.

Dwyer drilled three hits to help Bemidji nip Crookston. He also reached on an error and scored one of Bemidji's three runs in the second inning. The frame also featured Biehn's single, Matt Schneider's two-run single and another error.

The Blue Ox upped its lead to 5-1 with a pair in the fifth with the help of RBI singles by Chris Conway and Joel Conway.

Sander went the distance on the mound to post the victory.

Mudcats open playoffs

The Bemidji Mudcats will begin their Section 6-B tournament 6:30 p.m. Friday against Twin Ports in a play-in game for the five-team tourney. The Section 6-B event is hosted by Hibbing.

In the opener of the four-team double-elimination portion of the tournament Moorhead will face Duluth. Saturday's 11 a.m. first-round game will see Hibbing taking on the Bemidji-Twin Ports winner.

The section meet will continue with elimination games on Saturday and the championship will be decided on Sunday.

Region 10-C Tournament

Blue Ox Results

Ada 250 102 200 - 12 17 3

Bemidji 201 100 000 - 4 8 2

Grunewald, Schumacher (W) (5) and Gullingsrud. K-6, BB-8

Schneider (L), Nissen (8) and C.Conway. K-4, BB-2

Crookston 000 014 000 - 5 11 4

Bemidji 030 021 00x - 6 10 5

Morin (L), Nelson (6) and Grabowski. K-3, BB-6

Sander (W) and C.Conway. K-7, BB-4

Cass Lake 000 001 001 - 2 10 0

Bemidji 000 002 001 - 3 10 2

Coyle (L) and Humphrey. K-7, BB-3

Nissen, Sander (W) (9) and C.Conway. K-4, BB-2

Pat Miller

Pat Miller is the sports editor at the Pioneer.

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