Bemidji Legion ends marathon stretch with doubleheader sweep of Brainerd
The long-awaited break for the Bemidji Legion baseball team has finally arrived.
During the past 11 days Bemidji has played 18 games, a streak that ended Thursday when the Legion entertained Brainerd in a doubleheader.
The Legion will have an opportunity to rest and enjoy the Fourth of July holiday as Bemidji is off until Tuesday when it heads to Roseau. The break will be short-lived, however, as the twinbill at Roseau marks the start of another hectic week which sees the Legion visiting Warroad on Wednesday and closing the regular season by playing in the Gopher Classic July 9-11.
The post-season begins July 14 with the first round of the sub-district.
Thursday's opener belonged exclusively to Bemidji as it coasted to a 10-0 win in five innings.?Bemidji won the nightcap 11-10.
The Legion took control early with three runs in the first inning, three more in the second and another three in the fourth. The 10th run came in the fifth.
"That was the kind of win we needed," said Bemidji coach Mike Fogelson. "We've had a nice 14 days of baseball and wanted to finish strong. The guys have played very hard the past two weeks and we wanted to end this stretch by playing good baseball."
Brainerd had no answer for the arm of Legion hurler Zach Solheim. The visitors managed only two hits, a single and a double in the fourth inning. Bemidji's defense preserved the shutout by turning a double-play to eliminate the lead runner.
While Solheim and the defense was dominating Brainerd's hitters, Bemidji's bats teed off on Brainerd pitcher Jack Hegarty.
Singles by Collin Leif, Cody Rutledge, Solheim, Tyler Tatro and Matt Hietala produced three runs in the opening stanza and four more hits in the second inning resulted in three more runs.
Jeremiah Graves started that rally with a single and, after Mitch Hendricks sacrificed, Leif plated Graves with a single. Rutledge followed with a single and Mason Bellew cleared the bases with his 2-run double.
Bemidji iced the victory in the fourth. Hendricks and Leif singled to begin the frame and Rutledge plated both with a double. An out later Solheim singled in Rutledge.
Cody Jenkins had the honor of scoring the final run as he pinch-ran for the singling Hendricks and eventually scored courtesy of Bellew's single.
"We played a complete game," Fogelson said. "Obviously, Zach did a very nice job on the mound. We also played nice defense and the offense scored a bunch of runs early.
"All facets of the game were working for us."
In Thursday's nightcap the Legion bats outlasted Brainerd 11-10 despite being outhit 14-16.
Both teams scored twice in the first inning and Brainerd struck for four in the second. Bemidji, however, countered with five in its half of the frame as Rutledge belted a 2-run roun-tripper and Leif contributed a bases-loaded triple.
After the visitors tied the game 7-7 in the upper fourth the Legion answered again, this time with a 3-run rally fueled by Rutledge's double and singles by Bellew and Hietala.
Brainerd, however, drew even again with three in the sixth only to see the Legion regain an advantage with a run in the home half of the inning.
Graves singled to begin the stanza and pinch-runner Dom Hayle stole second. Hendricks followed with a single to deep short and when the shortstop threw to first Hayle raced home all the way from second.
The run proved decisive as Bemidji retired Brainerd without a run in the seventh.
Rutledge had four of Bemidji's 14 hits, a home run, two doubles and a single.
Brainerd 000 00 - 0 2 1
Bemidji Legion 330 31 - 10 15 0
Hegarty (L) and London. K-6, BB-1
Solheim (W) and Leif. K-5, BB-1
Brainerd 240 103 0 - 10 16 2
Bemidji Legion 250 301 x - 11 14 1
Martin, Bzdok (L) and London.
Schneider, Leif (W) (6) and Leif, Graves (6)