COLLEGEVILLE -- The offense struck quick as lightning for the Bemidji High School baseball team on Tuesday -- just before the actual lightning struck.
The Lumberjacks (13-7) scored eight runs in two innings for an 8-2 win over Fergus Falls in the Section 8-3A Tournament at Saint John’s University in Collegeville. However, inclement weather then postponed the encore against Alexandria to Wednesday, June 5.
“We know what we need to do to win the section, but the idea is to focus on exactly what’s in front of you,” BHS head coach Mike Fogelson said of the win. “Just keep trying to stay alive, and the longer you stay alive, all of a sudden there’s a light at the end of the tunnel.”
Second-seeded Bemidji bunched all its runs into the third and fourth innings, but not before the No. 5 seed Otters (6-16) jumped ahead 2-0 in the top of the third.
Jack Baker plated Michael Wiederich with an RBI single, and Baker later snuck around a tag at home on a double steal.
Lumberjack senior Cole Tatro was on the mound while he waited for the offense to kick into gear. He surrendered the early lead, but he kept his head despite it.
“You just have to battle through it and keep throwing strikes. Rely on your defense to make plays,” he said.
And then the Bemidji bats struck.
Isaiah Biehn started the third-inning rally with an RBI double to score Brandon Lussier, and Biehn later scored off a two-out error. Colby Carlson made it hurt when he added a two-run double for a 4-2 lead.
In the fourth, BHS piled on. Henry Michalicek came in on a sacrifice fly, and then Hunter Olson sent a ball flying with a deep three-run homer to left-center.
“You can take a little breath and pitch with the lead,” Tatro said. “You have more confidence. … We were aggressive (offensively). We were swinging at good pitches and driving the ball.”
The support was more than enough for Tatro, who settled in comfortably from then on. He struck out the side in the fifth and added two more punchouts in the sixth. Finally, he fanned the final two batters of the ballgame to hit 10 on the day and seal the 8-2 victory.
“All these games are win or go home,” Fogelson said. “Cole has been steady all year. … He’s done a great job for us, and he continues to help us win these games.”
The Jacks only had eight hits accompany their eight runs. Nevertheless, Fogelson was pleased with the lineup’s showcase on Tuesday.
“We hit a lot of balls really hard. Some fell, some didn’t,” Fogelson said. “… It was fun to see our offense get going. Lussier and Biehn started it in the (third), and everybody jumped on board. And then obviously Hunter’s big home run. A lot of loud outs and big hits.”
The win pitted Bemidji against top-seeded Alexandria for Tuesday’s game two, but the weather had other plans. Consistent lightning flashes continually delayed the matchup before the game was ultimately postponed to Wednesday.
BHS will now face the Cardinals at 11 a.m. at Saint John’s in another elimination game. The winner will play No. 3 seed Little Falls at 1:30 p.m. in game one of the championship series. If necessary, the winner-take-all game will take place on Thursday, June 6, at Saint John’s.
The last-minute schedule shuffle doesn’t change much mentality-wise for Bemidji, though.
“Just regroup, come back tomorrow and play the same way we did,” Tatro said.
No. 2 Bemidji 8, No. 5 Fergus Falls 2
FF 002 000 0 -- 2-5-3
BHS 004 400 X -- 8-8-0
WP: Tatro (CG, 7 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 3 BB, 10 K)
LP: Kotschevar (4 IP, 7 H, 8 R, 5 ER, 3 BB, 4 K)