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Baseball: Bemidji outlasts Warroad to complete sweep

Bemidji's Collin Rutledge, left, hit a tough ball down the first base line, beating out throw as Warroad pitcher Isaac Anderson tries to cover the bag on Thursday evening. Monte Draper | Bemidji Pioneer1 / 3
Bemidji's Collin Rutledge pitched the first game of a doubleheader against Warroad on Thursday evening. Monte Draper | Bemidji Pioneer2 / 3
Bemidji’s Erik Fitzgerald slides into third safely as Warroad third baseman Luke Jaycox has a difficult time fielding the throw in the first game of a doubleheader Thursday. Monte Draper | Bemidji Pioneer3 / 3

BEMIDJI -- Collin Rutledge struck out 15 batters in the opener and Erik Fitzgerald drilled a solid single to center with the bases loaded and one out in the bottom of the ninth of the rematch as the Bemidji baseball team swept Warroad 6-1 and 4-3 Thursday at the BSU diamond.

After three previous attempts to open the home season were scratched because of the weather, Thursday's games were the first at home for the Lumberjacks.

BHS had no trouble taking the opener as Rutledge was in complete command. The nightcap, however, was up for grabs until the final at-bat.

"We just didn't have enough good at-bats in the second game and that is why we went to nine innings," said Bemidji coach Mike Fogelson. "We had great pitching in both games but the offense didn't match the pitching."

Sophomore Matthew Morgan made his Lumberjack debut on the mound in Thursday's second game and he pitched well for most of his seven-inning stint. He yielded a run in the first on a walk, an error and single, and three walks to begin the top of the second inning helped the Warriors score two runs and take a 3-0 lead.

Morgan did not allow another run and neither did Parker Lucas who pitched the final two innings and earned the victory.

Matthew struck out four and issued those four early walks.

Bemidji didn't have a hit off Warroad starter Logan Wallace through four innings but the Jacks finally went on the offensive in the lower fifth.

Tony Geerdes began the frame with a single to center and Austin Weidemann followed with a single to right. A passed ball advanced Geerdes and pinch runner Thomas Revering and Geerdes scored courtesy of an infield error on Tyler Geerdes' hot-shot grounder to short.

An out later Dan Johnson ripped a double down the right-field line to plate Revering and Fitzgerald capped the rally with a ground ball to second which scored Tyler Geerdes.

BHS had a golden opportunity to take the lead in the sixth when it advanced runners to the corners with one out. That threat came to a sudden halt, however, when Revering forced Tony Geerdes at second on a comebacker to the mound and James Hendricks was nailed at the plate trying to score from third when the throw went to second.

In the bottom of the ninth the Lumberjacks fared better as Revering's single and one-out walks to Parker Lucas and Johnson set the table for Fitzgerald's solid knock to center.

Bemidji had seven hits from as many batters. Neither team played well defensively as Warroad committed three errors and BHS had four errors.

Thursday's first game was better played by the Lumberjacks as they committed only one miscue. Warroad was not as nifty with the glove as the Warriors had five errors which led to five unearned runs.

The home team took charge early as Johnson's double, Fitzgerald's single, an error and Ryan Hirt's sacrifice fly produced two runs in the first inning.

BHS tallied three times in the third on a pair of errors, two walks, a hit batter and Lucas Goins' RBI single.

Another pair of errors by the Warroad infield gave Bemidji its final run in the fourth.

"It was nice to get those early runs," Rutledge said. "It helps knowing that if you mess up it won't hurt you too much because we were up 5-0 early."

Rutledge admits that he prefers to pitch in warmer weather than the teams had to confront on Thursday but he was able to get into a groove from the outset.

"I was able to strikeout out 15 guys because of my control," the lefty said. "I hate pitching in the cold but on Thursday I was able to have the pitches go where I wanted. My curve was working and my 2-seamer was working.

"My arm felt good and I was able to use all of my pitches."

Bemidji (5-2) will return to the BSU diamond at 4 p.m. today to take on Fergus Falls in a single game. Seth Anderson is expected to start on the mound.

Game 1

Bemidji 6, Warroad 1

Warroad 000 100 0 -- 1 4 5

Bemidji 203 100 x -- 6 7 1

Wilmer (L) and Otto. K-4, BB-2

Rutledge (W 2-1) and Revering. K-15, BB-1

Game 2

Bemidji 4, Warroad 3

Warroad 120 000 000 -- 3 6 3

Bemidji 000 030 001 -- 4 7 4

Wallace, Otto (8, L) and L.Jaycox. K-8, BB-5

Morgan, Lucas (8, W 1-0) and Weidemann, Revering (6). K-4, BB-6

Pat Miller

Pat Miller is the sports editor at the Pioneer.

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