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Follis pitches Jacks baseball team to extra-inning win over Sauk Rapids

The Bemidji baseball team outlasted Sauk Rapids 4-3 in nine innings Saturday at the Bemidji State University diamond but had the game gone any longer there might have been a difference of opinion in the dugout.

"If we hadn't scored the winning run in the bottom of the ninth I probably would have been forced to take Tyler (Follis) off the mound," BHS coach Mike Fogelson said. "But I'm not sure Tyler would have let me do that. He was on a mission."

Follis pitched a tremendous game Saturday as the senior threw 95 pitches and went the entire nine innings. The Storm entered the game with a 10-3 record and is considered one of the teams to beat in the section playoffs.

"Tyler was the story of the game," Fogelson said. "He didn't have a walk and he had only one or two 3-ball counts the entire game. We like to keep our pitchers under 100 pitches and Tyler finished with 95.

"It was a great performance."

Sauk Rapids had eight hits and three of them came in the sixth when the visitors scored two runs. Sauk Rapids also combined a pair of singles into a run in the third but in the other seven innings the Storm was unable to advance a runner past second.

"I didn't come to the park Saturday expecting to pitch nine innings," Follis said. "I came expecting to throw strikes and then let my defense play behind me."

The defense did its job all day. The Lumberjacks did commit two errors in the sixth but they were flawless in the other innings, including the fourth when Jeremiah Graves, Mitchell Hendricks and Mason Bellew turned a double play.

"I think that was our first infield double play of the year," Follis said. "It seems that we don't get too many ground balls when there is a man on first but this time we made it count."

Sauk Rapids opened the scoring in the third when a single, wild pitch and a 2-out single produced a run.

BHS answered with a run in its half of the frame when Hendricks reached on a fielder's choice, Collin Leif singled and Follis drove in Hendricks with a single to right.

Bemidji took a 2-1 lead in the fifth when Hendricks and Leif hit 2-out singles and Follis and Cody Rutledge walked, the latter free pass forcing home Hendricks.

The Storm carried a 3-2 lead into Bemidji's final at-bat but the Jacks forced extra innings when Hendricks opened with an infield single, gained second on a passed ball, advanced to third on a balk and scored on Leif's sacrifice fly to left.

The 3-3 deadlock continued into the ninth inning. Follis fanned the side in the top of the ninth and the Jacks offense took advantage of the opportunity.

Dom Hayle began the inning by walking on four pitches. He stole second, gained third on a wild pickoff throw and, after Hendricks walked, Hayle scored on a wild pitch.

"I wanted to end the game strong." Follis said, referring to the three strikeouts in the top of the ninth. "I knew that if I threw strikes the defense would back me up.

"The way we came back Saturday was important for us. If we can keep playing like this I don't know if there is a team in the section that could beat us."

The Jacks (7-6) will travel to West Fargo on Monday.

Bemidji also won Saturday's junior varsity game on its final at-bat as Logan Crosby scored the only run of the game when Sauk Rapids made an error on Devin Barrett's ground ball.

Sauk Rapids 001 002 000 - 3 8 0

Bemidji 001 010 102 - 4 6 2

Chape, Wippler (5), DeGagne (7) (L) and Bjork. K-2, BB-5

Follis (W) and Leif. K-7, BB-0

Junior Varsity

Sauk Rapids 000 000 0 - 0 3 1

Bemidji JV 000 000 1 - 1 6 0

Peterson (W) and Buckanaga

Pat Miller

Pat Miller is the sports editor at the Pioneer.

(218) 333-9200