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Bemidji Legion wins sub-districts, awaits bracket

LITTLE FALLS - Capturing the sub-district title was this week's challenge for the Legion. Not having to make a return trip to Little Falls on Friday to accomplish that goal was a bonus.

Thursday the Legion defeated Brainerd 12-9 in its sub-district opener and that victory assured Bemidji a spot in next week's district tournament in St. Cloud.

Little Falls, which downed Brainerd 3-0 earlier Thursday, also punched its ticket to the district meet with that victory.

In Thursday's late game, the top seed from the sub-district was on the line when the Legion and Little Falls squared off. And Bemidji wasted no time in displaying its dominance as the Legion took a 4-0 lead after two innings and coasted to a 7-1 victory.

"Not having to return to Little Falls on Friday was motivation enough for us to play well on Thursday," said Legion coach Mike Fogelson, whose team will take a 19-7-1 record into the district meet.

"Because we won those two games on Thursday we are the top seed and we will have a nice break."

The district meet begins Wednesday but the brackets won't be finalized until Monday.

Zach Solheim pitched five innings to earn the victory in the title game and Cody Jenkins recorded a save with four innings of shutout relief.

"This was one of our better games of the season," Fogelson said.

"Our attitude was right, we scored early and we took it from there. Little Falls never got back in the game after we opened the 4-0 lead. We had our energy and we kept applying the pressure."

The Legion scored a run in the first inning when Mitchell Hendricks singled, Dom Hayle forced him at second, Cody Rutledge singled and Collin Leif delivered an RBI single.

Sam Dwyer led off the second with a single and, after racing all the way to third on a wild pitch, Dwyer trotted home when Solheim belted a home run. An out later Hayle ripped a round-tripper to left field to up Bemidji's cushion to 4-0.

Jenkins, who had blasted four foul balls over the fence earlier in the day, managed to keep one fair, and his solo home run gave the Legion a 5-0 advantage.

Bemidji capped its scoring with a pair in the eighth. Dwyer singled, gained second on a wild pitch and scored when Solheim's grounder was booted.

Solheim promptly stole second and scored courtesy of Hendricks' single.

Hendricks finished with three singles while Dwyer had a pair of singles and Solheim, Hayle and Jenkins home runs.

NOTES: The Legion will open the eight-team double-elimination district tournament 11 a.m. Wednesday in St. Cloud against an opponent yet to be determined. Win or lose Bemidji will play again at 5 p.m. Wednesday ...

Fans and supporters of the Bemidji Legion and VFW baseball teams are invited to the annual fish fry dinner Tuesday at the Bemidji Legion.

The dinner will be served from 4:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $9 in advance or $10 at the door.

Sub-District Title Game

Bemidji 130 001 020 - 7 11 0

Little Falls 000 010 000 - 1 3 2

Solheim (W, 4-2), Jenkins (6, S) and Leif. K-7, BB-3

Tuhulsky (L), Thoma (3) and Arnold. K-3, BB-0

Pat Miller

Pat Miller is the sports editor at the Pioneer.

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