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Bemidji earns split with Alexandria

Bemidji shortstop Connor McNallan tags out Alexandria’s Christian Anderson who tried to steal during Monday’s first game. Lori Mork | Forum News Services

ALEXANDRIA — The inability of the pitchers to throw strikes proved costly to the Bemidji High School baseball team Monday as Alexandria took advantage of numerous free passes to down the Lumberjacks 11-1 in the opening game of a doubleheader.

The pitching staff fared much better in the rematch, however, as Collin Rutledge and Connor McNallan combined for only two walks and their knack of throwing strikes helped the Jacks earn a split with a 10-4 victory.

Monday’s split left Bemidji with a 5-6 overall record. BHS will try to build upon that mark Wednesday when it hosts Brainerd in a single game scheduled for a 4:30 p.m. start.

“In the first game Alexandria threw a really nice left-handed pitcher against us but we really didn’t do many things right,” said Bemidji coach Mike Fogelson. “Obviously, in the second game our pitchers set the tone by throwing strikes.

“When we throw strikes we are competitive against the best teams on our schedule,” the coach added.

In Monday’s opener three different BHS pitchers combined for seven walks. The Cardinals also pounded 12 hits and breezed to the 5-inning victory.

Bemidji tallied the game’s first run when McNallan coaxed a two-out walk, stole second and scored courtesy of Drew Peterson’s double.

An error on Mitch Buckanaga’s ground ball put runners at the corners and pitch runner Rutledge promptly stole second.

But the threat ended when Tom Revering was retired for the third out of the inning.

The Lumberjacks would never seriously threaten again as no runner made it past second base in the final four frames.

Alexandria’s offense fared much better, however.

In the first inning an error, a walk and a pair of singles combined for three runs. The Cardinals had two hits in the second inning but failed to score but in the third Alexandria turned five walks, a hit batter, two singles and a double into five runs.

During the inning the home team chased Bemidji starting pitcher Mitch Buckanaga and Cody Labernik who pitched to only two batters.

Parker Lucas relieved late in the stanza and recorded the third out. Lucas went the rest of the way and yielded three runs in the fifth.

Bemidji mustered only three hits. Peterson contributed a double and Nick Hovila and Billy Baumgartner had singles.

Second game

Although Rutledge retired the Cardinals in order only in the third inning he was able to limit the damage when Alexandria threatened.

The home team scored a pair in the second and two more in the fifth but it couldn’t get the key hit in the first, fourth and sixth innings.

The Lumberjacks fared better, especially in the late ging. BHS took a 1-0 lead in the first inning when Hovila singled, stole second, gained third on a groundout and scored on McNallan’s grounder.

Alexandria took a 2-1 advantage in the second but the Jacks began their rally with three in the fifth.

Singles by Baumgartner and McNallan combined with a walk to Peterson to load the bases. Baumgartner and McNallan scored when Buckanaga’s ground ball was booted and Cody Labernik plated Peterson with a single.

The Cardinals tied the game in the lower fifth but Bemidji regained the lead with a pair in the sixth. A walk to Hovila and an error on Baumgartner’s grounder set the table for McNallan’s two-run double.

The Lumberjacks iced the victory with four in the seventh. The inning featured three walks, Labernick’s double and singles by Rutledge and McNallan.

“In the second game we were aggressive at the plate but the ebb and flow for our team is throwing strikes,” Fogelson said. “Alexandria is a very good team and coming home with a split is what we needed.

“Now we have another section opponent in Brainerd at home on Wednesday and we will need to keep things going.”

First Game

Bemidji 100 00 – 1 3 2

Alexandria 305 03 – 11 12 2

Buckanaga (L), Labernik (3), Lucas (3) and Revering. K-1, BB-7

Stockert (W) and Leary. K-7, BB-1

Second Game

Bemidji 100 032 4 – 10 11 1

Alexandria 020 020 0 – 4 9 3

Rutledge (W), McNallan (S) and Buckanaga. K-1, BB-2

Booth, Allen (L) (6), Thompson (7) and Leary. K-1, BB-6

Pat Miller

Pat Miller is the sports editor at the Pioneer.

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