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Bemidji offense ignites: Legion wins two in Gopher Classic, improves to 2-1

BLOOMINGTON - After losing their Gopher Classic opener Friday night, the Bemidji Legion Post 14 baseball team made up for it in a big way Saturday.

Post 14 won a pair of games Saturday morning to improve to 2-1 in pool play. They defeated hosts Bloomington Gold 9-1 in five innings in the first game of the morning then turned around and topped Coon Rapids - and their top prospect pitcher - 3-0 in the very next game.

Bemidji improves to 2-1 in the tournament and closes out pool play in the tournament today with a 2:30 p.m. game against Farmington and a 5 p.m. game against DePere, Wis. Both games will take place at Red Haddox Field in Bloomington.

On Saturday, Bemidji's offense clicked. Post 14 combined for 12 runs on 14 hits in both games.

In game one, Bemidji run-ruled hosts Bloomington Gold 9-1 in five innings. (To speed things up, the tournament instituted an 8-run rule rather than the standard 10.)

Mitchell Hendricks threw all five innings and picked up the win, giving up only four hits and striking out three.

Hendricks also led the team with three hits and three RBIs.

Offensively, Bemidji got on the board early. After a scoreless first inning, Post 14 had five consecutive base hits to score runs. Connor McNallan and Sam Dwyer tripled, then Tony Hale hit a triple to score both of them. Hendricks singled home Hale, followed by a Leif single that scored Hendricks from first.

In the fourth, Hendricks hit an RBI single and Leif also batted in a run. In the fifth, Bemidji scored three runs, highlighted by a triple from Dwyer.

In all, Bemidji scored nine runs on nine hits to get the win.

Game two, however, was a pitching duel.

In that game, Coon Rapids' Logan Shore - one of the top rising senior prospects in the state and headed for Florida - faced off against Bemidji's Ryan Hirt, one of the top rising juniors in the state.

Hirt won this battle.

Bemidji scored three runs on five hits against Shore en route to their 3-0 victory.

And Cody Rutledge led the way. He hit a solo home run in the first inning to set the tone for the game and put Post 14 up 1-0.

Bemidji held onto that lead all game, until Rutledge helped the team again in the seventh inning.

He and Cody Jenkins hit back-to-back singles to kick things off. Mason Bellew hit a sacrifice to move the runners over, then Zach Solheim gave Bemidji some much-needed insurance with a two-run double over the head of the right fielder.

In the end, Bemidji had five hits off the Coon Rapids star, who still struck out eight Bemidji hitters.

But Hirt matched him, going all seven innings and giving up only five hits. He struck out seven and walked two in the win.

Bemidji 9, Bloomington Gold 1 (5 innings)

Bemidji 040 23 - 9 9 0

Bloomington 000 01 - 1 4 0

Hendricks (W) and Leif. K-3, BB-1.

Bemidji 3, Coon Rapids 0

Bemidji 100 000 2 - 3 5 0

Coon Rapids 000 000 0 - 0 5 1

Hirt (W) and Leif. K-7, BB-2.

Shore (W) and Mrosla. K-8.

Jack Hittinger

Jack Hittinger is the sports editor of the Bemidji Pioneer. He is also the Bemidji State beat writer. He hails from the Great State of Michigan. Read his Bemidji State blog at and follow him on Twitter at @Jackhitts.

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