PREP BASEBALL: Bemidji scrapes across enough to sweep Grand Rapids
BEMIDJI -- It wasn’t always pretty, but the Bemidji High School baseball team got it done: 6-4 and 4-3 wins to sweep Grand Rapids at the BSU baseball field on Monday.
“Just going up there and being a tough out (is huge),” BHS head coach Mike Fogelson said. “If we want to be really good, I think that’s one of the big steps that we have to take: getting up there and nine guys just grinding (it out). The more of that we do, the better we’ll be.”
The Thunderhawks (0-6) drew first blood in game one, getting on the board in the top of the first through an RBI single from Gabe Holum. Bemidji (3-1) didn’t waste much time in leveling the score, though, as Otto Grimm led off the bottom of the first with a double and scored on a Hunter Olson sacrifice fly during the next at bat.
Cole Tatro brought in another BHS run in the third with a sac fly, just before Matt Fitzgerald crossed home on a wild pitch for a 3-1 Lumberjack lead.
“Otto, he was the catalyst. He did a lot of things at the plate and had some big hits,” Fogelson said. “...The top four in our lineup (Grimm, Olson, Fitzgerald and Tatro) have done a lot of damage. Now we just need to get the rest of the lineup doing that, too.”
In the fourth, Bradie Weidemann gulfed a triple to the gap and came in to score on a throwing error while being waved home. Olson’s second sacrifice fly of the day scored Grimm two batters later, and Bemidji had built a 5-1 lead.
Grand Rapids came back, though, using two BHS errors in the fifth to its advantage. Both Collin Dibb and Holum picked up RBI singles, and then Holum came in to score on a wild pitch to slim the deficit to 5-4.
But Tatro provided some breathing room by belting a home run over the tall left field fence in the bottom half of the inning. Drew Boen did the rest in relief, retiring eight of nine batters from the mound to clinch the save and a 6-4 win.
“I think it builds some confidence, winning close games against a good ballclub,” Fogelson said. “Grand Rapids’ record doesn’t really show it, but they have a really nice team. One through nine they swing it well.”
Game two started similarly, as the Thunderhawks scored in the first before Bemidji matched it.
A two-run homer by Collin Dibb then had Grand Rapids ahead 3-1 in the third, but the Jacks tied it in fifth through a run-scoring bunt and an RBI groundout.
And thanks to Brendan Kuechenmeister, the score remained 3-3 at the seventh-inning stretch.
From right field, Kuechenmeister threw out a runner trying to score off a single, preventing the go-ahead run and protecting the 3-3 deadlock. Kuechenmeister then bunted over a pair of runners in the bottom of the seventh, allowing Casey McNamara to bring home the game-winning run with a walk-off sac fly.
“(Kuechenmeister is) a guy we expect a lot of from the plate,” said Fogelson. “He’s struggling a little bit, but then he goes out and makes a huge play for us in right field.
“You never know when the game’s going to come to you. You expect to make some big hits, and all of a sudden you have to make a defensive play. So that’s why you’ve got to stay in the game, stay confident and keep grinding.”
Fitzgerald finished 7-for-8 at the plate overall, and Grimm followed with a 4-for-5 performance that included three doubles and four runs. Tatro tossed 4 1/3 frames to earn the game-one win, and Grimm took the second after two innings of relief work.
The Lumberjacks return to the BSU baseball field to host Warroad at 4 p.m. today, where Monday’s grind-it-out sweep has them carrying a humble three-game winning streak into it.
“We found a way,” Fogelson said. “We had some huge defensive plays, especially in the second game, to get out of there.”
Bemidji 6, Grand Rapids 4 (Game One)
GR 100 030 0 -- 4-8-2
BHS 102 210 X -- 6-9-3
WP: Tatro (4.1 IP, 7 H, 4 R, 1 ER, 6 SO, 1 BB)
LP: Anderson (3.1 IP, 6 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 0 SO, 3 BB)
Bemidji 4, Grand Rapids 3 (Game Two)
GR 102 000 0 -- 3-12-1
BHS 100 020 1 -- 4-8-1
WP: Grimm (2 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 2 SO, 1 BB)
LP: Holom (2.2 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 3 SO, 2 BB)