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Baseball: Bemidji Legion goes to St. Cloud Invite

The Bemidji American Legion heads to St. Cloud today to begin play at the 12-team St. Cloud Invitational, the first of its two major tourneys this summer.

The second will be the season ending Gopher Classic in July.

The Legion will open against Coon Rapids at 10 a.m. today at Putz Stadium and come back tonight at 5:30 to battle Waite Park at the same field.

Tomorrow morning it goes against the St. Cloud Chutes at 9 a.m.

The 12 team are then grouped into three brackets for the final two rounds with the top four entering the Gold, the second four the Silver and the third four the Bronze.

The first round bracket games will be played Saturday afternoon and evening with the winners advancing to another round of games Sunday for first place.

The Saturday afternoon losers are eliminated.

Sauk Rapids, the St. Cloud 76'ers, Cold Spring and Monticello make up Pool A with Willmar, Elk River, Apple Valley and Rochester Lourdes in Pool C.

Last year Bemidji went 2-2 beating the Rochester Eagles 6-3, losing to Alexandria 2-1 and beating Elk River 8-5 in pool play but losing to the Chutes 4-3 in their first bracket game to come home early.

This year will prove a far greater test since the team will go into play without its top hurler Simon Anderson.

He is playing this weekend at the Lions All Star Series at Chaska which is held today and tomorrow.

He will likely be able to play with the Legion Sunday should it advance that far.

Coach Mike Fogelson dipped deeper into his staff Wednesday and was rewarded with a double win over Park Rapids. Josh Kane went the route in the opener and Cody Rutledge in the nightcap, both growing stronger down the stretch.

Kane threw 129 pitches in the opener but blanked Park Rapids the final three frames without a hit.

Rutledge threw 106 but blanked the visitors the final two frames and had four 1-2-3 innings of his seven on the mound.

The Legion attack, which has struggled for hitting in the early season, responded with 10 and 11 hits in the two games.

Fogelson will go with Jeremiah Graves (0-1). Tyler Follis (0-1), Chad Head (0-1) and Billy Statton (0-0) as the starters and have Tyler Tatro and Collin Leif available for relief.

But Bemidji's chances will likely hinge on continuing the new found attack that has scored 32 runs in the last three starts.

The team faces twin bills at Nisswa and Brainerd Tuesday and Thursday in sub-district play.

It will face three back to back twin bills the following week, hosting Nisswa June 29, Thief River June 30 and traveling to Park Rapids July 1.