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Legion wins one to start Gopher Classic tourney

The Bemidji Legion baseball team is preparing for the district tournament which starts Tuesday by playing in the Gopher Classic and Bemidji will take a 1-2 tournament record into today's final day of pool play.

Only the champion of each pool will advance to Monday's tournament quarterfinals and with a 1-2 record after three games Bemidji is not likely to earn that spot.

Friday the Legion downed Minot 9-1 and lost to North St. Paul by the same score.

Saturday Bemidji dropped an 8-inning 10-9 decision to Rochester Redhawks. Today sees the Legion facing Centennial at 2 p.m. and Harrisonville, MO at 4:30 p.m.

"This is a great tournament with great teams," said Bemidji coach Mike Fogelson. "The nice thing about this tournament is that you get to play against some of the best teams in Minnesota and other states."

Minot traditionally is one of the top teams in North Dakota, according to Fogelson. North St. Paul's roster includes players from Hill-Murray as well as North St. Paul and is currently state-ranked. The Redhawks hail from Rochester Mayo and participated in the state high school tournament this spring. And Centennial currently is rated second in the state Legion poll.

Bemidji dominated Minot Friday afternoon, scoring three in the first inning off singles by Cody Rutledge, Mitch Hendricks and Booster Russ, and coasting from there. Jeremiah Graves' single in the second set the stage for Rutledge's RBI single and Graves plated a pair of runners in the third with a single.

The Legion added two runs in the fifth as Tyler Tatro tripled and Russ and Ryan Stevens delivered RBI singles.

The game was called after Bemidji scored a run in the sixth because of the tournament's 8-run rule. Dom Hayle singled in Mason Bellew with the game-ender.

Tatro paced the offense with a triple and two singles. Rutledge, Russ and Graves each contributed a pair of singles.

In Friday's evening session North St. Paul downed Bemidji 9-1, also in six innings. Bemidji managed only three hits and the lone run came in the upper sixth when Rutledge singled and eventually scored on a passed ball.

In Saturday's action Bemidji and Rochester traded big innings but Rochester was able to push a run across in the eighth to win.

The Legion opened the scoring with four runs in the first inning as Hendricks, Rutledge, Tatro and Stevens singled, Russ doubled and Solheim tripled.

Bemidji took a 5-3 lead in the lower fifth when Rutledge and Tatro singled but Rochester struck for six runs in the upper sixth with the aid of two walks, a pair of doubles and a triple.

The Legion countered with four in its half of the stanza, however, to draw even at 9-9. Cody Jenkins walked to begin the rally and Stevens, Hendricks, Collin Leif and Rutledge followed with singles. The inning's final two runs scored when Bellew and Solheim were hit by pitches.

Neither team scored in the seventh but Rochester tallied one in the eighth on a single, walk, passed ball and sacrifice fly.

Bemidji will take a 20-11 record into today's action.

NOTE: Bemidji earned the third seed in the double-elimination district tournament which begins Tuesday in Brainerd. The Legion will play No. 2 Nisswa at noon. The other game pits top-rated Brainerd against No. 4 Little Falls following Bemidji's game.

The opening-round losers will meet Tuesday evening and that loser will be eliminated.

Gopher Classic

Friday's Results

Minot 000 100 - 1 6 3

Bemidji Legion 312 021 - 9 11 0

Winkels (L) and Guse. K-4, BB-2

Stevens (W) and Leif. K-6, BB-6

Bemidji Legion 000 001 - 1 3 1

North St. Paul 311 013 - 9 11 1

Solheim (L), Bellew (4) and Leif. K-2, BB-2

Felhaver (W) and Larson. K-5, BB-4

Saturday's Result

Rochester 020 106 01 - 10 10 0

Bemidji Legion 400 014 00 - 9 14 1

Essig, Arch (6) (W) and Serratore. K-5, BB-1

Berndt, Leif (6) (L), Rutledge (8) and Leif, Graves (6). K-3, BB-6

Today's Schedule

Bemidji Legion vs. Centennial, 2 p.m.

Bemidji Legion vs. Harrisonville, MO, 4:30 p.m.

Pat Miller

Pat Miller is the sports editor at the Pioneer.

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