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Bemidji begins sub-districts today

LITTLE FALLS - A pair of one-run losses on June 26 at Little Falls proved costly to the Bemidji Legion baseball team.

Those setbacks, coupled with an 11-2 loss to Little Falls last week in Bemidji, prevented the Legion from claiming the top seed in the sub-district tournament which begins today. Little Falls earned that position and its reward - home field for the three-team tournament.

Joining Bemidji and Little Falls in the sub-district field is Brainerd and those three teams will open the round-robin tournament today.

Little Falls and Brainerd will hit the diamond at 10 a.m. and Bemidji will battle Brainerd at 1 p.m. The nightcap sees Bemidji squaring off with Little Falls at 4 p.m.

The tournament continues Friday and the top two teams in the double-elimination event will advance to next week's district meet in St. Cloud.

"There are three good teams in this tournament and two will go to districts," said Bemidji coach Mike Fogelson. "During the regular season we won all four games against Brainerd but we lost two close games against Little Falls when we didn't do the little things right. We also won a game 7-0 when we did everything right and lost the last game when we didn't do anything right.

"Now we are in the playoffs and I think that if we take care of business like we know we can, we'll do all right," the coach continued.

Bemidji's roster is comprised of battle-tested veterans who played in the high school state Class 3A state championship game a month ago at Target Field.

Unavailable today, however, are infielder Connor McNallan and outfielder Nick Hovila who are on a church mission trip.

Bemidji's projected lineup will see Mason Bellew at first, Cody Jenkins at second, Mitchell Hendricks at short and Sam Dwyer at third. The probable outfield will have Dom Hayle in left, Cody Rutledge in center and Nick Conner in right.

Collin Leif will be behind the plate and Ryan Hirt is scheduled to open on the mound.

Hirt owns a 4-1 summer record and his ERA is a miniscule 0.72. The ability of Bemidji's pitchers to go deep into a game will be an asset the rest of the season because all of the tournament games will be nine innings instead of seven.

"Playing nine-inning games is not a big deal to some pitchers and I don't think it will be a problem for our pitchers," Fogelson said. "We have proven pitching and a deep staff so nine-inning games should not be an issue for us."

The Legion will take a 17-7-1 record into today's action.

Pat Miller

Pat Miller is the sports editor at the Pioneer.

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