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Legion goes 1-1 on day one of district tournament; drops second game in 11-inning thriller

ST. CLOUD - After Wednesday night's marathon, the Bemidji Post 14 Legion baseball team will need to win twice today to make sure it gets to see the third day.

After defeating the St. Cloud 76ers 5-1 in the opening game of the American Legion District VI baseball tournament at the St. Cloud Municipal Athletic Complex, the Legion (20-8-1) dropped an extra-innings thriller to Sauk Rapids in the second game.

Sauk Rapids prevailed 9-8 in 11 innings Wednesday night, putting Bemidji on the ropes.

"Our first goal is to get through (Thursday)," Bemidji head coach Mike Fogelson said Wednesday. "We've got to take it one game at a time to get to Friday."

The Legion will take on either Big Lake or St. Cloud Chutes in an elimination game at 1 p.m. today. The game between those two teams was not complete at presstime.

Bemidji had to work to extend their game against Sauk Rapids to 11 innings.

Rapids took an early 5-0 lead before Bemidji scored in the top of the third inning; and Sauk Rapids would score twice more in the fourth inning to put Bemidji in a big 7-1 hole.

But the Legion slowly chipped away. Bemidji scored four runs in the fifth inning to cut Sauk Rapids' lead to 7-5. And although Rapids scored another run in the bottom of the fifth to take a 8-5 lead, Bemidji wasn't done. The team tied the game at 8 with three runs in the top of the sixth.

And the score stayed that way until the eleventh inning.

Mitch Hendricks walked the bases loaded, then Cody Rutledge came in and pitched to the last batter of the game, giving up a one-out sacrifice fly to give Sauk Rapids the win.

"We did a nice job battling back and getting back into the game," Fogelson said. "But we walked too many guys and kind of threw it away."

In all, the three Bemidji pitchers - Zach Solheim, who started, along with Hendricks and Rutledge - walked a combined nine Sauk Rapids hitters, striking out four. Hendricks took the loss despite pitching well in relief of Solheim.

Offensively, Bemidji had zero trouble. They knocked in 20 hits in the game and were led by Dom Hayle, who went 4-for-4 with a double.

Collin Leif also had three hits and Cody Jenkins had two doubles. Rutledge doubled and singled, and Hendricks, Nick Hovila, Connor McNallan and Sam Dwyer all singled.

In the first game, Bemidji's Ryan Hirt went the distance to secure the win and get the team in the winners' bracket.

Hirt threw all nine innings, struck out eight and walked only two in Bemidji's 5-1 win over the St. Cloud 76ers.

In all, the Legion banged out seven hits against St. Cloud hurler Mitch Ergan, who took the loss.

The Legion scored a single run in the first thanks to a Hovila single and a Leif single.

The team would score three more times in the fifth inning thanks to two 76ers errors, a Hendricks triple and a sacrifice fly from Rutledge. Rutledge also scored the team's fifth run in the seventh inning after singling, stealing second, advancing to third on the errant throw and coming home on a wild pitch.

Bemidji 5, St. Cloud 76ers 1

Bemidji 100 030 100 - 5 7 2

76ers 001 000 000 - 1 6 3

Hirt (W) and Leif. K-8, BB-2.

Ergan (L) and Setrum. K-4, BB-2.

Bemidji 9, Sauk Rapids 8 (11 innings)

Bemidji 001 043 000 00 - 8 20 4

S. Rapids 140 210 000 01 - 9 13 0

Solheim, Hendricks (3, L) Rutledge (11) and Leif. K-4, BB-9.

Chapa, Silbernick (5, W). K-5, BB-1.

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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