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Bemidji VFW takes two from Moorhead

Connor McNallan scored the VFW's first run of Wednesday's opener as he raced home on Nick Hovila's sacrifice fly. Pioneer Photo/Pat Miller

Trailing 3-0 after four innings the Bemidji VFW baseball team rallied in the final three frames to nip Moorhead 4-3 at the BSU diamond in the first game of Wednesday's doubleheader.

In the nightcap the home team outlasted its guest 11-7.

The Vets return to duty today as they host Perham in another doubleheader starting at 2 p.m. at the BSU diamond.

In Wednesday's opener the Vets narrowed their deficit with single runs in the fifth and sixth stanzas and completed their comeback with two runs in the lower seventh.

Key to the seventh inning were a hit batter and Nick Conner's game-winning single which was lost in the sun by Moorhead right fielder Brandon Weiser.

Both teams played stellar defense.

Each squad turned a pair of double plays, both of Bemidji's started by shortstop Conner McNallan. Second baseman Cody Jenkins served as middle man for both of the twin killings and first baseman Ryan Hirt completed the plays by stretching to catch the relay just in time to record the out at first.

The doubleplays thwarted both offenses but Moorhead found the scoreboard first with three runs in the fourth off Bemidji hurler Trent Baker.

The inning started with a hit batter and Seth Blaser's RBI double. An out later Brady Johnson singled in Blaser and Aaron Wilmer walked.

The Vets seemed to escape further harm when Brandon Weiser seemingly hit into another 6-4-3 doubleplay but the batted ball nipped the lead runner in the foot and the play was dead.

Johnson was ruled out but Moorhead still had runners at first and second. Had the doubleplay stood Bemidji would have been out of the inning but Moorhead took advantage of the extra opportunity as Chayce Bowman singled to right to score Wilmer with the inning's third run.

A fly ball to the infield ended the frame but Moorhead seemingly had control with a 3-0 lead.

The VFW loaded the bases with nobody out in the lower fourth but failed to score as a strikeout, infield fly and groundout ended that threat.

Bemidji did push a run across in the fifth as McNallan singled, Dom Hayle doubled and Nick Hovila delivered a sacrifice fly but another opportunity went by the wayside as Hayle was stranded at third.

Hirt's double, walks to Drew Peterson and Sam Dwyer and Conner's sacrifice fly combined for a run in the sixth but the Vets still trailed 3-2 heading into their final at-bat.

The Vets, however, immediately went to work in the bottom of the seventh.

Hayle began the inning by coaxing a walk and Hovila followed with a single to left. An out later Hirt ripped a line shot to the shortstop who dropped the rocket but recovered in time to force Hayle at third for the second out.

Peterson kept the inning alive with a walk and Dwyer was hit by a pitch to force in Hovila with the tying run.

Conner followed with his fly ball to right which turned around Weiser who struggled to see the ball in the sun. The fly eventually dropped untouched and Hirt, who was moving at the crack of the bat, was waiting at the plate when the ball hit the ground.

Hovila and McNallan had a pair of singles while Hayle, Jenkins and Hirt belted doubles.

Baker went the distance on the mound. He allowed only four hits, all of them in the fourth inning, struck out three, walked two and hit four batters.

Wednesday's rematch featured a big inning by both teams but Bemidji was able to score enough runs to post the victory.

The Vets spotted Moorhead a 1-0 lead but answered with three in the lower first. The lone hit in the frame was Hovila's single. Also fueling the rally were an error, three passed balls, a walk and a sacrifice bunt.

Bemidji seemed to take command with six runs in the fourth only to see Moorhead match that total in the top of the sixth.

The Vets needed only two hits in the big inning, a single by McNallan and Baker's 2-run double. Bemidji also benefitted from four walks and an error.

Moorhead drew within 9-7 in the sixth as two walks, two hit batters and three hits led to six runs. The VFW, however, tallied two insurance runs in the lower sixth with the help of three errors and hits by Hirt and Peterson.

Cody Jenkins was the winning pitcher and McNallan earned a save.

First Game

Moorhead 000 300 0 - 3 4 0

Bemidji 000 011 2 - 4 9 0

Rahman (L) and Bowman. K-7, BB-5

Baker (W) and Buckanaga. K-3, BB-2

Second Game

Moorhead 100 006 0 - 7 7 5

Bemidji 300 602 x - 11 5 1

Weiser (L), Beach (4) and Johnson.

Jenkins (W), McNallan (S) and Labernick

Pat Miller

Pat Miller is the sports editor at the Pioneer.

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