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Bemidji avenges loss to Spuds, top seed possible

MOORHEAD - Bemidji avenged its only loss of the season Thursday and in the process secured the No. 1 seed in the Section 8-3A playoffs as the Lumberjacks outlasted Moorhead 11-8.

Entering Thursday's action BHS shared an 18-1 overall record with Red Wing and St. Cloud Apollo. The Jacks also were the top team in the state in terms of the QRF ranking.

Red Wing and Apollo ended their campaigns with that 18-1 record while the Lumberjacks had Thursday's game to play.

Although unlikely, it was possible that a Bemidji loss to the Spuds could have dropped the Jacks below Apollo in the section seedings which are based on the QRF.

Nick Hovila and his teammates made sure that didn't happen, however, as he pounded four of Bemidji's 11 hits to lead the team to its 19th victory in 20 outings.

On April 13 Moorhead nipped Bemidji 5-4 in the first game of a doubleheader. That loss served as inspiration for the Lumberjacks as they belted the Spuds 15-1 in the rematch. And Bemidji hasn't looked back since.

"We had a great regular season," BHS coach Mike Fogleson said. "But the regular season doesn't mean much if we don't get after it in the playoffs.

"What we have established during the regular season is our formula for success," the coach continued. "And that formula is throw strikes, field the ball and have quality at-bats."

Thursday at Moorhead the Lumberjacks followed that formula for success even though the scorebook shows that BHS pitchers Cody Jenkins and Mitchell Hendricks walked 10 batters.

A trio of Moorhead hurlers issued 12 walks.

"It was a very tight strike zone," Fogelson said. "All of the pitchers on both sides were frustrated by the zone. There were 22 walks by both teams but it is hard for me to be mad at our pitching staff because of that tight zone."

As has been the custom, Bemidji wasted no time taking charge. With one out in the top of the first Hendricks walked and Cody Rutledge followed with a blast over the left field fence.

"That was a shot," Fogelson said of Rutledge's blast. "It was into the teeth of the wind and no one else came close to hitting a ball that hard."

Sam Dwyer's double, Hovila's single and Hendricks' double gave BHS a 4-0 lead in the second but the Spuds crept within 4-2 with single runs in the second and third innings.

Bemidji answered with two in the fourth on Hovila's double, walks to Hendricks, Collin Leif and Jenkins, plus Mason Bellew's sacrifice fly. Leif added an RBI single to highlight a two-run Bemidji fifth but Moorhead made things interesting with a run in the fifth and three in the sixth.

The Lumberjacks widened their cushion to 11-6 with three in the upper seventh courtesy of singles by Hovila and Hendricks and four walks. The home team closed within 11-8 with two in its half of the frame but could get no closer.

Jenkins earned the pitching victory with four innings of work. Hendricks tossed the final three frames.

The Lumberjacks will have the top seed for the section tournament and will open their postseason at home 3 p.m. Monday. The opponent won't be determined until later today when the brackets are announced.

Bemidji 220 220 3 - 11 11 1

Moorhead 011 013 2 - 8 10 2

Jenkins (W), Hendricks (5, S) and Leif. K-3, BB-10

Wilmer (L), Schultz (5), Manney (7) and Quaife. K-3, BB-12

Pat Miller

Pat Miller is the sports editor at the Pioneer.

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