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Baseball: Blue Ox beat Mudcats in first battle of Bemidji

Blue Ox second baseman Joel Conway connects with a pitch during Friday's game. Catching is Jon Clark. Pioneer Photo/Eric Stromgren

The Bemidji Blue Ox vaulted into their third season in high style Friday night, upending the veteran Bemidji Mudcats 2-1 in a pitchers duel at the BSU Stadium.

A good crowd braved the light rain that fell much of the game to witness the Blue Ox win for the first time over its older rival.

It was a good beginning for its switch into the tougher Norman-Polk League this summer.

It opens play Sunday at East Grand Forks in a doubleheader.

Cody Gross and Sam Saccoman will get the starting calls.

The Cats twin bill today with the St. Paul Mudhens was cancelled.

Their next game comes May 29-30 at St. Francis and Shakopee.

The difference in Friday's game was the Blue Ox having 17 of their 20 players on hand.

The Mudcats could round up only ten of their 22. That came one game after they were forced to recruit a ninth player to go to Nashwauk Wednesday.

They lost that game by one run and did the same Friday.

The game was a mound duel from the start between BSU's Justin Huether, Randy Amos and Matt Fossen of the Blue Ox and the Mudcats' Sam Anderson of the University of North Dakota.

Bemidji held a 5-3 edge in hits with each team scoring one earned run.

Bemidji got a run in the third when Ryan Johnson singled, stole second, took third on a wild pitch and scored on Dan Bauer's single to left field.

But that was to be the only score for the losers.

Anderson breezed through the first five frames allowing only three base runners, one erased in a line drive double play.

But in the sixth, he made a major mistake of walking the eighth and ninth batter to open the frame.

After getting a pop out, Colton Smith doubled up the gap in left center to plate a run.

Anderson worked out of further trouble with a foul pop and a strikeout. He gave up a single and walk to open the eighth but got out of that frame with a pickoff and two strikeouts.

Anderson left after eight frames after throwing 115 pitches.

Paul Fenner came on to start the ninth and walked Nate Brown.

He then threw away a pickoff attempt with the speedy Brown reaching third. He scored from there on a wild pitch.

That was enough as Fossen set down the side in order in the last of the inning, fanning two, to get the win.

The Mudcats wasted promising chances in the seventh and eighth.

In the seventh, Jeff Schaper walked. Greg Skerik bunted and reached first when the bag was uncovered. When the throw went into right field, Schaper went to third but Skerik was thrown out trying to reach second.

A strikeout and pop up left Schaper at third.

In the eighth, Bauer doubled and advanced on a wild pitch with no outs.

But Andrew Hengel popped out and Neil Huewe's bullet to third was caught by Sol Schneider and turned into a double play.

The Blue Ox cashed in on its only two good opportunities to win.

Catcher Dan Bennett had two of the three Blue Ox hits. Bauer had two of the Mudcats five.

Anderson and Fenner had seven strikeouts, but wlaked eight.

The three Blue Ox hurlers fanned nine and walked four.