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Jacks denied: Title game leaves familiar sting

Bemidji baseball players react as Eastview records the final out Monday in the Minnesota State High School League Class AAA state title game at Target Field in Minneapolis. The Jacks had solid pitching from sophomore Ryan Hirt, but the Lightning won 1-0 to claim the title. Matt Steichen | Forum Communications Co.1 / 4
Bemidji head coach Mike Fogleson, right, consoles Cody Rutledge following the Lumberjacks' loss in the state title game. Matt Steichen | Forum Communications Co.2 / 4
Matt Steichen | Forum Communications Co. Bemidji catcher Colin Leif, crouching, looks on as Eastview celebrates its 1-0 win over Bemidji in the Minnesota State High School League state championship game Monday night at Target Field in Minneapolis.3 / 4
A hug as the Lumberjacks take in the difficult loss.4 / 4

MINNEAPOLIS - With two outs in the top of the seventh inning, Bemidji shortstop Mitchell Hendricks couldn't watch what was happening on the Target Field diamond.

Hendricks and his Bemidji baseball teammates trailed Eastview 1-0 and Cody Jenkins was trying to keep the Lumberjacks hopes of a state championship alive.

But Hendricks couldn't bear to look. He propped his drooping head on the dugout railing with his arms, hoping that something positive would happen.

For the second time in his senior season, a state title was slipping away in the championship game. Last fall, Hendricks was the quarterback when Bemidji fell to Rocori in the state title contest. And Monday at Target Field a similar result was in the making.

When Jenkins' line drive was caught by centerfielder Brennan Banick for the final out, Bemidji officially was denied the state title. Once again, the Lumberjacks had to be satisfied with second place.

And Hendricks wasn't the only Lumberjack to feel the sting.

Catcher Collin Leif was bent over, his head pointed toward the ground. He couldn't watch as Eastview celebrated near home plate.

This group of young Bemidji men had come so far. The group had won 25 games and had overcome so much to get to Target Field.

"But we didn't come here to take second place," said outfielder Nick Hovila. "We had a couple of chances to score but we just couldn't come through today."

"It's been a great year," said pitcher Ryan Hirt, who took his first loss Monday after opening the year with 10 victories. "Hopefully we can do the same next year."

Coach Mike Fogelson put the season into perspective.

"We had an amazing year," Fogelson said. "When they kids look back on the season they'll be proud of what they accomplished."

Pat Miller

Pat Miller is the sports editor at the Pioneer.

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