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Eastview silences Bemidji bats to deny Jacks the state title

Above, Bemidji catcher Colin Leif, left, tags out Eastview's Cameron Hall during the fourth inning of the MSHSL Class AAA state championship game Monday at Target Field in Minneapolis. Hall tried to scramble home when Chris Narum hit a fly ball to right field, but Bemidji rightfielder Sam Dwyer gunned him down to double Hall up and end the inning. Matt Steichen | Fourm Communications Co.1 / 2
Bemidji's Colin Leif walks by as the Eastview baseball team celebrates its 1-0 win over the Lumberjacks in the MSHSL Class AAA state championship game Monday at Target Field in Minneapolis. Matt Steichen | Fourm Communications Co.2 / 2

MINNEAPOLIS - Eastview touched Bemidji starting pitcher Ryan Hirt for a run in the bottom of the second and the Lightning made that tally stand up as it defeated the Lumberjacks 1-0 Monday in the Class 3A championship game at Target Field.

The loss denied the Jacks a state title and the outcome was the second time this year that a BHS squad had to settle for second place. Last fall the Jacks fell to Rocori in the championship game of the state football playoffs.

"We did so many things to stay in this game," said BHS coach Mike Fogelson. "We kept battling the entire way. We just couldn't manage to scratch that one run across."

The Lumberjacks, who fell to 23-3 on the year, managed only two hits off Eastview hurler Evan DeCovich: Cody Rutledge's single in the first and Mason Bellew's single in the fifth.

Those hits didn't produce a scoring threat but Sam Dwyer's walk to open the sixth did have Eastview's defense squirming.

Dwyer stole second but had to hold when Connor McNallan grounded to third. Dwyer did advance, however, on Nick Hovila's ground ball to short but the threat ended a batter later when Mitchell Hendricks, after fouling off three two-strike pitches, flied to center.

Defensively, Bemidji was on top of its game. In the fourth inning Dwyer caught a fly ball along the right field foul line and threw a strike to catcher Colin Leif to nail a runner trying to tag.

The infield also turned a pair of twin killings to keep the deficit at 1-0.

The Lightning scored its run on a double, sacrifice bunt and groundout. Except for that one inning, however, Hirt was in control.

"Once they scored that first run I told myself that I had to keep throwing strikes and let my defense keep Eastview off the board," Hirt said. "I really thought we would find a way to get at least one run."

But Bemidji never did.

"This hurts," Dwyer said after the game."We didn't think this was going to happen. It's a shame that such a good hitting team like we are all were cold on the same day.

"This is tough to take," Dwyer continued. "This was the biggest game of our lives and we couldn't find a way to win it."

NOTE: Bemidji had four players make the state tournament all-star team: Ryan Hirt, Mason Bellew, Collin Leif and Mitchell Hendricks.


State Championship

Bemidji 000 000 0 - 0 2 0

Eastview 010 000 x - 1 4 0

Hirt (L) and Leif. K-3, BB-1.

DeCovich (W) and Reger. K-5, BB-1.

Pat Miller

Pat Miller is the sports editor at the Pioneer.

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