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Bemidji HS baseball: Stevens pitches big game, leads Jacks to sweep

Ryan Stevens pitched seven innings of gutty baseball and Cody Rutledge ripped three hits and scored three runs to power the Bemidji baseball team to a 7-5, 8-inning victory over Sauk Rapids-Rice Saturday on the loser's diamond.

The win capped a busy day which began with the Lumberjacks thumping Sartell 14-1 at Sartell.

"It was a long day but it was nice to play well and end it by having to battle back against a very good team," said BHS coach Mike Fogelson.

Bemidji spotted Sauk Rapids-Rice a 3-0 cushion in the third inning but rallied to tie the game in the fifth. The home team regained the lead at 5-3 in the sixth but the Lumberjacks forced extra innings with a pair in the upper seventh.

BHS thwarted a SR-R threat in the bottom of the seventh and eventually won with two in the eighth.

Sauk Rapids-Rice's first hit was a 3-run round-tripper in the third inning. In the fifth, however, the Jacks tied the game as Mitch Hendricks, Rutledge and Matt Hietala singled, Tyler Follis had a sacrifice fly and Paul Voss delivered a 2-run single.

Bemidji was forced to rally again in the seventh and Rutledge opened the inning with a double. After walks to Hietala and Mason Bellew, Voss belted a sacrifice fly and Jeremiah Graves singled in the second run of the inning.

The home team threatened in the lower seventh when a double and passed ball put a runner at third with one out.

Fogelson decided to intentionally walk the next two hitters to load the bases and set up the force plays. The tactic worked as a fly ball to the catcher and another to right field ended the inning.

"We wanted to set up the force outs to take some pressure off the defense," Fogelson said. "Of course, things could have backfired with a walk but Ryan was in command on the mound and I didn't think he would walk anyone."

The Jacks scored the winning runs in the upper eighth as Rutledge singled and stole second, Hietala reached on an error, Bellew doubled home Rutledge and Hietala scored courtesy of Voss' sacrifice fly.

Stevens allowed five runs on four hits. He struck out 10. Graves worked the eighth and earned the save.

The game against Sartell was less dramatic as the Lumberjacks scored eight runs in the second inning and settled the issue with four more in the third.

Graves' 2-run double and a grand slam by Rutledge highlighted the second inning. Bellew, Josh Kane, Hendricks, Collin Leif, Follis and Hietala all had singles in the stanza.

The third inning featured singles by Graves, Hendricks and Leif plus a double by Hietala.

Bemidji added two runs in the fifth on singles by Follis, Rutledge, Booster Russ and Voss.

Zach Solheim was the winning piticher as he worked 4.1 innings. Matt Schneider finished on the mound.

Bemidji returns to action Tuesday when it heads to Moorhead. Rutledge is expected to pitch that game.

Pat Miller

Pat Miller is the sports editor at the Pioneer.

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