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Baseball: Mudcats clinch league title with win

The Bemidji Mudcats nailed down the Arrowhead League title Monday night, blanking the Grand Rapids Indians 5-0 on Legion Field.

It lifted the Cats to 12-3 in league play with a single game remaining tonight at Nashwauk.

It leveled the season mark between the Rapids and Bemidji at 2-2. Bemidji taking the final two meetings.

Grand Rapids. which has led the league through most of the summer, dropped to 7-6 with three games to play.

Tyler Norland was in midseason form, setting down the Indians on seven hits, six of them singles He fanned five and walked none and was in serious trouble only once.

That came in the fourth after he set down the first nine Indians in order.

Bill Martinetto, Sam Sparen and Jim Brubaker opened the fourth with singles to load the bases.

But Kyle Figgins grounder to third was turned into a force at home. Norland then fanned Josh Stanek and got Alex Orgon to ground to second to end the frame.

He allowed one base runner in the fifth and eighth before Stanek and Orgon singled with two gone in the ninth. But Ryan Graupman flied to left to end the game.

Bemidji scored the only run it would need in the second when Paul Fenner singled and reached second on Sam Anderson's grounder to short which was thrown past second trying for the force.

Dan Bauer singled to score Fenner.

Two more scored in the third. Tony Klaers reached on an error and Jeff Schaper singled.

Andrew Hengel moved them up with a sacrifice. Klaers scored as Fenner reached on a fielder's choice and Schaper when Doug Peterson forced Fenner at second.

Two insurance runs padded the score un the sixth. Fenner and Peterson opened with singles and Anderson doubled home Fenner. Peterson crossed on a wild pitch.

Starter Tyler Blomberg left after six with Gabe Woods working three scoreless innings in relief..

Bauer and Fenner had two hits for Bemidji. Martinetto had a pair for he Indians.

Brainerd stops Cats

Last night the Cats stepped out of league play to face the Brainerd Bees.

Showing, perhaps, the effects of their Monday win, the Cats played with a lack of intensity and fell to the visitors 4-3.

Sidearmer Chris Smolke held Bemidji in check through eight innings, spacing eight hits, and survived a ninth inning comeback to win.

The winners had eight hits off three Bemidji hurlers with lefty Matt Stasch working the first six to take the loss, his first. His only previous win had come over the Bees at Brainerd.

The Bees combined four hits with a hit batter to score twice in the first and might have had more had they not hit into a double play.

They scored twice more in the fifth when Tim Rusk doubled, Joel Martin reached on an error and two walks and a hit batter completed the damage, the runs scoring on the second walk and the hit batsman.

Bemidji broke the ice in the sixth when Tony Klaers was hit by a pitch but forced at second by Dan Nolan. He took second on Jeff Schaper's single and both advanced on a wild pitch with Nolan scoring on Paul Fenner's ground out.

Smolke took the 4-1 lead into the ninth when Ryan Johnson reached on a throwing error with one gone. Andrew Hen gel walked and Dan Bauer cashed both with a ringing double up the gap in left center.

He moved up on Greg Skerik's ground out but was stranded as Smolke struck out the final batter.

He fanned only two and walked three while yielding nine hits. Nolan and Schaper had two. The three Bemidji hurlers allowed eight hits, two each by Rusk , Kyle Crocker and Kevin Peterson. They struck out 10 and walked three.

Bemidji lost a golden scoring chance in the fourth when a walk and hits by Nolan and Schaper loaded the bases with no outs. But Smolke got Fenner to hit a comebacker for a 1-2-3 double play and retired the side on a fly to right.

Fenner will get the mound start tonight at Nashwauk in the final Arrowhead League game of the season. Bemidji will probably earn a first round bye while the bottom four teams play off for berths in the semifinals.