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Bagley flies to title: Flyers’ offense comes up big to win Sub-Section 8A East championship

Bagley’s Jacob Skansberg (26) is congratulated by teammates Ben Thoma (15) and Ty Erickson (5) after hitting a three-run home run in the fourth inning of their Sub-Section 8A East playoff game against Blackduck Thursday afternoon at BSU. Bagley won 9-4 and then topped Walker-Hackensack Akeley 16-2 in six innings to win the Sub-Section 8A East title. Monte Draper | Bemidji Pioneer

BEMIDJI — Darris Dahl can’t remember the last time the Bagley baseball team won a playoff game.

He supposed it had been even longer than that since the Flyers had won a sub-section title.

The former streak ended had Tuesday with a 12-2 win over Cass Lake Bena in the first round of the Sub-Section 8A East playoffs.

“It’s a good question,” Dahl said Thursday, his back wet from the Gatorade shower he had just received. “I’ve been part of the Bagley baseball program for 10 years and we hadn’t won a playoff game, not to mention a sub-section title. I’m not sure when the last date we did that.”

The latter streak stopped Thursday at the BSU baseball diamond, as Bagley topped Blackduck 9-4, then dispatched of Walker-Hackensack-Akeley 16-2 in six innings to claim the Sub-Section 8A East title.

Bagley, playing in Class A for the first year after dropping down from Class AA, is now two victories from its first state tournament appearance since 1978.

And it was the Flyers’ bats that got them this far Thursday. Bagley (13-9) combined for 23 hits in both games, and the players in the middle of the order — Ben Thoma, Jacob Skansberg and Colton Adams — did the most damage.

The three combined for 14 hits, 16 RBIs and 15 runs scored in the two games.

“Offense was the key,” Dahl said. “Our three, four and five guys were huge, but really the whole batting order stepped up. But everybody contributed, and that was a big deal.

“Once the kids see they can hit, it’s like wildfire.”

In the first game, a 9-4 win over two-time defending Section 8A champion Blackduck, Adams and Skansburg homered to give the Flyers their cushions.

Although Blackduck’s Tanner DePew drew a leadoff walk in the top of the first and came around to score, that early lead wouldn’t last.

Adams hit a three-run homer off Blackduck starter Isaac Gustafson in the first inning to give the Flyers a lead they wouldn’t relinquish — part of a four-run first inning.

The Drakes cut Bagley’s lead to 4-3 with a two-run, three-hit third, but once again the Flyers answered with a dinger.

This time, it was Skansberg who hit a massive three-run bomb over the 24-foot wall in left field — part of another four-run inning for Bagley.

Jordan Loiland got the win for the Flyers. He labored a little, giving up four runs on four hits, three walks and a hit batter, but had his offense backing him up. He also struck out 10.

Dahl was impressed with how his team handled the Drakes.

“As a coach, knowing that (Blackduck head coach Dwight Kalvig) has got those kids to state twice, it’s good to know we can beat them,” Dahl said. “I mean, Blackduck is used to winning.

“I was a little nervous about that. I asked the kids, ‘Well, what can we bring that will counter that?’ We knew it was gonna be hot, so we knew if we could be energetic and bounce around a little bit, maybe that will give us an edge.”

Gustafson took the loss for Blackduck and lasted just three-plus innings. He gave up five runs on four hits and four walks.

Dylan Weisert pitched the final four innings for the Drakes and gave up four runs on four hits and three walks.

In the second game, the Flyers kept swinging the bat against Walker starter Austin Richter.

Richter had nearly no-hit Remer Northland in the Wolves’ morning game — a 6-2 win — but after throwing seven innings earlier in the day, he didn’t last very long against the Flyers.

Bagley pounced on Richter early, scoring two runs in the first inning followed by another in the third, chasing him after just two-plus innings. He gave up three runs on nine hits and two walks.

Reliever Logan Gross also struggled, giving up single runs in the third and fourth before the floodgates opened in the fifth and sixth.

Bagley scored five runs on three hits, a walk and two errors in the fifth then batted around in the sixth, sending 11 to the plate and scoring six runs on six hits — all singles.

Nate Rolfson and Corbin Thoreson pitched for Bagley and gave up just two runs on four hits.

The Flyers will take on Red Lake County Tuesday at BSU in the Section 8A semifinals. The winner will move on to the title game and the loser will drop to the losers’ bracket.

“It’s going to be a pinch-me weekend for sure,” Dahl said. “What was nice about today’s games was everybody, even my younger guys, got a chance to get in. It’s important that they got to see some real baseball stuff going on.”

Bagley 9, Blackduck 4

Blackduck 102 010 0 — 4 4 4

Bagley 400 410 x — 9 8 5

Gustafson (L), Weisert (4) and Bales. K-4, BB-7

Loiland (W) and Thoma. K-10, BB-3

Bagley 16, W-H-A 2

Bagley 202 156 — 16 15 0

W-H-A 202 000 — 2 4 3

Rolfson (W), Thoreson and Thoma. K-7, BB-4.

Richter (L), Gross (3), Smith (6) and Buckentin. K-7, BB-3.

Blackduck stays alive

Despite losing to Bagley in their first game, the Drakes shut out Remer Northland 7-0 to stay alive in the losers bracket.

The Drakes (13-7) will take on Norman County in an elimination game Tuesday morning at BSU.

In Thursday’s game against Northland, Jake Krabbenhoft pitched a complete-game shutout, striking out 11 and giving up just six hits in the victory.

Although Northland’s Zak Nornberg did a good job containing the Drakes for the first two-plus innings, the Drakes’ Colton Bales doubled and scored in the third to give them their first run of them game.

Then, Tanner DePew’s three-run double was part of Blackduck’s four-run fourth that helped put the game out of reach.

Blackduck scored twice more in the sixth on Jake Peterson’s two run double to make it 7-0.

Blackduck 7, Northland 0

Northland 000 000 0 — 0 6 1

Blackduck 001 402 x — 7 8 0

Nornberg (L) and Wicks. K-8, BB-3.

Krabbenhoft (W) and Bales. K-11, B-2.

W-H-A 6, Northland 2

In the day’s first game, W-H-A starter Richter had a no-hitter going through 6 ⅓ innings before Northland broke it up with two runs on two hits in the top of the seventh inning.

Richter struck out nine Northland hitters and walked just two to carry his team to the winners’ bracket.

The Wolves’ Caleb Garoutte hit a two-run single in the second inning to give them an early lead. W-H-A then added to its lead in the fifth inning with three runs on two hits, a fielders’ choice and a sacrifice fly.

Richter also hit an RBI single in the bottom of the sixth to give W-H-A its sixth run.

Austin Likens started and took the loss for the Eagles, pitching all six innings but giving up six runs on nine hits.

W-H-A 6, Northland 2

Northland 000 000 2 — 2 2 2

W-H-A 020 031 x — 6 9 0

Likens (L) and Wicks. K-2, BB-1.

Richter (W) and Buckentin. K-9, BB-2.

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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