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Bemidji baseball team enjoys home spotlight

The Bemidji baseball team will enjoy the home spotlight today as the Lumberjacks entertain Grand Forks Red River in a game scheduled to start at 4:30 p.m. at the Bemidji State diamond.

The time, however, is tentative as the Beavers are playing Jamestown in a doubleheader starting at noon at the same site. The high school game will begin as soon as possible after the college contests.

Today's game will represent a homecoming for Mark Varriano who coaches Red River. Varriano graduated and played baseball for the Jacks in the early 1990s.

BHS is coming off last Thursday's impressive 11-0 home victory over Hibbing, a win that gave the Jacks a 5-2 record.

Overall, Bemidji played very well as Zach Solheim was in command on the mound, the defense made most of the plays and the offense ripped 13 hits.

If there was a flaw, it was base running and that is an aspect of the game the Jacks have addressed.

"If you have a chance to pick up an extra base you have to do it," said BHS coach Mike Fogelson. "Our focus is still pitching, defense and having productive at-bats and our approach is to continue to improve. And part of the improvement is doing the little things right such as taking that extra base."

Jeremiah Graves is the probable pitcher for today and Collin Leif is expected to be behind the plate. Likely candidates for the other positions include Mason Bellew at first, Mitch Hendricks at second, Tyler Follis at short, Tyler Tatro at third plus Matt Hietala in left, Cody Rutledge in center and Josh Kane in right.

"We're 5-2 and, overall, I'm happy with how we have been playing," Fogelson said. "Our losses have been in close games to quality teams. We're still a young team and our job is to continue to improve."

The Bemidji tennis team heads to Detroit Lakes today in search of its third victory in eight starts. A win won't come easily, however. The only mutual opponent is Crookston, a team that defeated Bemidji 5-2 but lost to Detroit Lakes by the same score.

"We're looking for the right mix," said Lumberjacks coach Scott Engelstad, who is still contemplating whether he should strengthen the singles or the doubles today.

"It's a winnable match if we happen to use the right combination and everyone plays well. We could go strong in singles or strong in doubles and which way to go is the $64,000 question.

"This seems to be the year that we win 4-3 or lose 4-3 and we have to find ways to win those tight matches," the coach added.

The Lumberjacks will also head to Thief River Falls on Thursday.

The BHS track and field teams head to Grand Rapids today for a quadrangular that begins at 4 p.m.

The Lumberjacks continue to improve their times and distances and last week at Alexandria the boys and girls athletes both set a number of personal records.

"I saw some wonderful times at the Alexandria meet," said BHS girls coach Chris Lehman.

Bemidji also sent five athletes to an elite meet at Hamline last Friday. Bailey Drewes represented the girls squad in the 1600 and placed 15th at Hamline with a time of 5:28.04.

In the boys division, the 4x800 relay unit of Matt Lee, Jake Urban, John Buckanaga and Alex Schoneberger finished sixth in 8:12.52. Schoneberger also competed in the 800 and was seventh with a time of 2:01.42.

Bemidji's boys golf team will be at a meet hosted by Brainerd at The Pines on Wednesday while the girls squad will host its annual invitational Friday morning at the Bemidji Town & Country Club.

Pat Miller

Pat Miller is the sports editor at the Pioneer.

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