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Jacks win baseball opener 5-2 over Minneapolis South

MINNEAPOLIS — Collin Rutledge and Connor McNallan teamed on a 4-hitter and McNallan’s 2-run triple sparked the offense as the Bemidji High School baseball team opened the 2013 season Friday with a 5-2 victory at Minneapolis South.

The Lumberjacks finished second at the Class 3A state tournament last spring. The bulk of those players have graduated, however, and the Jacks begin the 2013 campaign with many question marks.

Being inside for the first six weeks of the practice season has not helped the team’s progress but Friday night BHS showed that the Jacks should be solid again this spring.

“We played clean in the field and we made the plays,” said Bemidji coach Mike Fogelson. “Our pitchers threw very well and, as a team, it didn’t look as if we hadn’t been outside yet. It was a good performance.”

Rutledge earned the pitching victory as the sophomore gave up only two runs in 5.2 innings. McNallan posted the save with 1.1 innings of solid relief.

Neither team scored in the first two innings but the Lumberjacks used McNallan’s 2-out triple to take the lead in the third.

Mark Fenner opened the inning by reaching on an infield error, and an out later Nick Hovila was hit by a pitch.

With two down, McNallan plated both teammates when he lined a triple over the head of the right fielder.

“Connor crushed that pitch,” Fogelson said. “It was a shot.”

The Jacks padded their cushion with three runs in the fourth.

Singles by Cody Labernik, Billy Baumgartner and Fenner combined for the first run and Baumgartner eventually scored with the help of a wild pitch.

Hovila, a senior who recently signed with Bemidji State to play baseball next season, capped the inning when his single to left scored Fenner.

Bemidji managed only two more hits during the final three innings, singles by Labernik and Tom Revering. But the Jacks already had enough runs to win their season opener.

Minneapolis South did make things interesting in the sixth when a hit batter, a single and three walks combined for two runs. BHS eventually worked its way out of that jam and McNallan collected the save by retiring the home team without incident in the seventh.

Labernik had two hits and McNallan two RBI courtesy of his triple.

Bemidji returns to action today when it visits Champlin Park at 11 a.m. and Elk River at 4 p.m.

Ryan Hirt and James Hendricks are scheduled to handle the pitching chores.

Bemidji 002 300 0 – 5 8 0

Mpls. South 000 002 0 – 2 4 1

Rutledge (W 1-0), McNallan (6) (S 1) and Revering. K-10, BB-6

Sherquist (L), Rivera (4) and Hockett. K-6, BB-2

Pat Miller

Pat Miller is the sports editor at the Pioneer.

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