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Bemidji Legion set for postseason

With the regular season concluded the Bemidji Legion baseball team turns its attention to the double-elimination sub-district meet which begins today in Brainerd.

Bemidji was given the third seed in the four-team sub-section and will tangle with No. 2 Nisswa at noon.

Today's 4:30 p.m. game matches top-rated Brainerd against No. 4 Little Falls.

The first-round survivors advance to the winner's bracket semifinal which will be played at noon on Wednesday. That winner will earn a trip to next week's district meet and be awarded the sub-district's No. 1 seed.

Today's losers will return to the diamond at 6 p.m. today and the loser of that game will be eliminated.

The winner, however, will return to action 3 p.m. Wednesday against the winner's bracket loser. The victor will earn the sub-district's second seed into the district meet while the loser will see its season come to an end.

"All four teams are good and have a shot at advancing to the district," said Bemidji coach Mike Fogelson whose team will take a 20-12 record into today's action.

The top three sub-section teams had similar records and similar head-to-head results. The seedings actually came down to the number of runs each team allowed and on this criteria Bemidji ranked third.

During the regular season the Legion went 3-1 against Brainerd, 3-3 against Nisswa (2-2 in league play) and 1-2 against Little Falls. Those results are cause for optimism, according to Fogelson.

"The top three teams were in a deadlock and the match-ups are what they are," he said. "We've had a long season and a very successful one," he continued. "The kids have put in a lot of time playing baseball and, hopefully, all of that experience on the diamond will pay off. We purposely played a tough schedule to prepare us for the type of games we will see in the postseason. And we are ready."

Bemidji and its Legion conterparts will deal with different rules during the postseason. The most obvious is a switch from seven-inning games to nine-inning games.

Also influencing play during the tournaments will be the lack of a courtesy runner, no re-entry and a rule stating that a designated hitter can only be used to bat for the pitcher.

"Basically, we are playing American League rules," Fogelson said. "During the season we extensively used the courtesy runner and re-entry and often our designated hitter batted for a position player. But now we do not have those options."

Because of the new rules Fogelson is still contemplating today's lineup. Zach Solheim will open on the mound against Nisswa, however.

"Zach pitched well against Nisswa this year and he has been our most consistent pitcher in terms of throwing strikes," Fogelson said. "Zach has the nod in our first game and after that we will look at match-ups.

Solheim will take a 3-2 record into today's contest. In 28.2 innings he has fanned 23 and walked 10. Opponents are hitting only .216 against him and his era is 3.17.

The Legion ended its regular season Sunday with an 8-0 loss to Centennial at the Gopher Classic. A second game against Harrisonville, MO was a weather victim. Centennial entered the Gopher Classic ranked second in the latest Minnesota Legion poll.

Bemidji managed only four hits in the game, a pair of singles by Cody Rutledge, Ryan Stevens' double and a single by Mitch Hendricks.

Jeremiah Graves was the losing pitcher.

Gopher Classic

Centennial 020 042 - 8 8 1

Bemidji Legion 000 000 - 0 4 0

Graves (L) and Leif. K-5, BB-5

Sub-District Tournament

Double Elimination

At Brainerd

Today's Games

Game 1: Bemidji (No. 3 seed) vs. Nisswa (No. 2), noon

Game 2: Little Falls (No. 4) vs. Brainerd (No. 5), 3 p.m.

Game 3: Game 1 loser vs. Game 2 loser, 6 p.m. (loser eliminated)

Wednesday's Games

Game 4: Game 1 winner vs. Game 2 winner, noon (winner wins sub-district and earns sub-district's No. 1 seed for district tournament)

Game 5: Game 3 winner vs. Game 4 loser, 3 p.m. (winner earns sub-district's No. 2 seed for district tournament; loser eliminated)

Pat Miller

Pat Miller is the sports editor at the Pioneer.

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