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Big innings lift Bemidji High School baseball team to wins over Eagan, South

EAGAN - The Bemidji baseball team scored five runs in the top of the eighth inning and defeated Eagan 12-8 Saturday in the first game of a split doubleheader against two different teams.

In Saturday's second outing at Minneapolis South the Lumberjacks struck for nine runs in the top of the seventh inning to post a 16-6 victory.

Against Eagan BHS (6-1) bolted to a 4-0 lead after three innings but the Wildcats took advantage of a series of walks to tie the game heading into the sixth.

The 4-4 deadlock extended into the seventh when Bemidji took a 7-4 lead with three runs. Eagan, however, duplicated that output to force extra innings.

Bemidji made sure that there would not be a ninth inning as the Lumberjacks transformed a hit batter, two errors and five hits into five runs.

BHS wasted no time kick starting its offense as Mitchell Hendricks opened the game with a bunt single and Nick Hovila followed with a single to left.

Cody Rutledge, who entered the game with 14 hits in 19 official at-bats, was hit by the first pitch he saw to load the bases.

Collin Leif then sent a grounder to third and Hendricks scored when a throw to the plate sailed past the catcher. Hovila, however, was nailed at home trying to score from second on the play.

Rutledge scored a few pitches later on a wild pitch and Leif completed his journey around the bases when Cody Jenkins grounded to second.

The Lumberjacks upped their lead to 4-0 in the top of the third when Rutledge drilled a triple over the center fielder's head and Leif delivered an RBI ground ball.

BHS starting pitcher Ryan Hirt retired Eagan without incident for three innings but the home team took advantage of three walks to score a run in the fourth.

Hirt also walked the first three hitters in the fifth and, after he allowed a 2-run single, the left-hander was replaced by Hendricks.

Eagan eventually tied the game with an infield single.

Bemidji took a 7-4 lead in the upper seventh when Jenkins walked, Mason Bellew doubled, Connor McNallan reached on an error, Nick Connor hit into an RBI fielder's choice and Hendricks ripped a double.

The Wildcats countered with three runs of their own, however, pounding two doubles and three singles in the inning.

Bemidji eventually settled matters with its five-run eighth. Leif was hit by a pitch to begin the rally and the Jacks followed with Jenkins' single, Bellew's double and singles by McNallan, Conner and Dwyer. Hendricks capped the frame with a sacrifice fly.

Hendricks finished with four hits while Bellew had three and Rutledge, McNallan and Conner two.

Hendricks earned the pitching victory with four innings of relief.

After taking a 7-1 lead the Jacks saw Minneapolis South draw within 7-6 with a five-run sixth. Bemidji, however, responded with nine runs in the seventh to put the game on ice.

The late rally featured singles by Jenkins, Dwyer, Hendricks and Bellew plus Leif's RBI double and Rutledge's three-run double off the left field screen.

South took a 1-0 lead in the second but BHS struck for six runs in the fourth. Keying that rally were RBI singles by Dwyer, Hendricks and Hovila, Leif's two-run single and Jenkins' single.

The Jacks upped their advantage to 7-1 in the fifth when Bellew doubled and MaNallan plated him with a ground ball.

Drew Peterson was the winning pitcher and Hendricks, who relieved in the sixth, earned a save.

Hovila paced the offense with a double and two singles. Jenkins contributed three singles.

Bemidji 301 000 35 - 12 16 2

Eagan 000 130 31 - 8 12 4

Hirt, Hendricks (W, 5) and Leif. K-8, BB-8

Holzer, Hoffman (4), Rayman (7), Krydel (L, 7), Estes (8) and Mangan. K-6, BB-6

Bemidji 000 610 9 - 16 16 0

Mpls. South 010 005 0 - 6 8 4

Peterson (W), Hendricks (S, 6) and Leif. K-3, BB-3

Walz (L), Rivera (5), Pnewski (7) and Pnewski. K-5, BB-5

Pat Miller

Pat Miller is the sports editor at the Pioneer.

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