BEMIDJI -- The Bemidji High School baseball team squared up with Alexandria on Thursday, and BHS walked off the BSU baseball field with a split against the defending section champions.
The Cardinals stole game one with a six-run seventh inning, but the Lumberjacks recovered for a 6-4 victory in the nightcap.
“We feel real good about both games today,” BHS head coach Mike Fogelson said. “We had leads in both games, and so did they. … We’re looking forward to seeing them again. Hopefully we get an awesome matchup in the playoffs.”
Cole Tatro dazzled for the majority of the opener. The senior pitcher struck out 13 batters over 6 2/3 innings, only leaving his post when he reached the pitch limit of 105. He handed things off to Brandon Lussier for a one-out save, but Alexandria’s bases-loaded threat escalated into an avalanche.
The Cardinals (5-1) hung six runs in the seventh -- all on two outs -- to shoot ahead 7-3. Cody Richardson cracked a slicing double to the right-center gap that cleared the bases and gave Alex the lead for good.
“They’ve been finding so many ways to win,” Fogelson said. “… We felt like we were about to win that game. A couple things didn’t go our way, however you slice it.”
Tatro’s pitching opened the window for Bemidji (6-4) to strike first at the plate. Alex LaZella lifted a long fly ball to right field, and it carried to the fence for a double that plated two.
Alexandria showed life with a fourth-inning run, but Casey McNamara placed a soft fifth-inning single into right field for an RBI that made it 3-1 Jacks.
Tatro did the legwork on the other end. He wiggled out of a jam in the sixth with his 12th strikeout of the day, and he reached a baker’s dozen for the second out of the seventh. Then the trouble began, however, as the Cardinals soiled Tatro’s efforts in their last-minute win.
“They’re grinding out, trying to win a ballgame. And credit to them,” Fogelson said. “I just love the way we responded. When you lose a game like that, sometimes you can come out flat. … But Steven (Peterson) settled in, and he did a great job. Then we just got after it.”
Fireworks signaled the start of game two, seeing Alex out to a 3-2 advantage after an inning.
The Cards scored on a wild pitch, an error and an infield single, but BHS came back within a run when Hunter Olson clubbed a dead-center triple for an RBI and later came in on a sacrifice fly.
Isaiah Biehn scored on a fielder’s choice in the third to level the score at 3, and a McNamara RBI single put Bemidji ahead 4-3 in the fifth. Alexandria tied it a half inning later, but Bemidji took the final lead of the day on a hectic scramble in the bottom of the sixth.
With the bases loaded and two outs, Biehn put a high chopper in play. Cardinals pitcher Matthew Carlsen fielded it, but he slipped on the throw to first base. The go-ahead run scored on the error, and a second crossed on an ensuing throwing error from the first baseman before the third runner was tagged out trying for another run on the play.
The 6-4 lead was enough. Colby Carlson struck out Richardson with two outs and the bases loaded to secure the doubleheader split.
“They’re tough to beat late in the game right now, so we’re taking a run any way we can get it,” Fogelson said. “We felt like we had game one, and it just didn’t quite go our way in the end. But… with the way they’re finding ways to win, we’re ecstatic to get out of there with the win.”
Bemidji will next head to Moorhead for a road doubleheader, starting at 4 p.m. on Tuesday, May 7.
Alexandria 7, Bemidji 3
ALX 000 100 6 -- 7-12-1
BHS 020 010 0 -- 3-4-1
WP: Nelson (2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 K)
LP: Tatro (6.2 IP, 9 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 2 BB, 13 K)
Bemidji 6, Alexandria 4
ALX 300 001 0 -- 4-8-2
BHS 201 012 X -- 6-7-2
WP: Carlson (1.1 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 4 K)
LP: Carlsen (CG, 6 IP, 7 H, 6 R, 4 ER, 3 BB, 5 K)