BEMIDJI - In the end, the extra trip to Bemidji and back was worth it for the Fosston baseball team.
The top-seeded Greyhounds had been scheduled to take on fourth-seeded Kelliher/Northome at 9 a.m. Tuesday in their Sub-Section 8A East opener. But the weather had other plans for both teams at BSU.
Instead of the early start, the game was delayed until nearly 3 p.m. - enough time for both teams to return home and come back rather than wait it out as the BSU grounds crew made sure the field was in shape following rain Sunday night and Monday morning.
And when the game finally ended, the Greyhounds had relied on pitcher Jesse Sather and taken advantage of enough Mustangs mistakes to secure a 10-0, 6-inning win.
Sather held Kelliher/Northome (7-6) to just one hit - a sixth-inning double off the bat of Joe Weidenborner - and struck out eight to make sure the Greyhounds (14-6) advanced to today’s winners’ bracket game against Blackduck.
“Jesse pitched really well,” Fosston head coach Ryan Hanlon said. “He threw a lot of strikes and we made the plays behind him.”
The lone Mustangs batter to reach base before the sixth inning - Prestone Lowe - got there by being hit by a pitch. He was caught stealing later in the inning.
“He threw strikes consistently and forced us to put balls in play,” Mustangs head coach Dan Alto said. “We had trouble when he was up in the count and we had two strikes on us.”
The Greyhounds backed their pitcher up at the plate, batting around in the first and jumping out to a 4-0 lead. Fosston’s first four hitters - Brock Hemmesch, Sether and Dalton Agnes - all reached base and all scored, as did Brett Sundquist, who hit a two-run single with the bases loaded.
Kelliher starter Trevor Poxleitner walked four batters in the first; he would go on to walk 12 total in the game.
“We were able to take advantage of some of their errors and some of their walks, but Poxleitner did a good job pitching,” Hanlon said. “When he was throwing strikes he was good, but he got a little wild early and we were able to get on him. That was a goal of ours, to try and get out and score in the first inning.
“We had a lot of good at-bats. And it wasn’t all because the pitcher was wild. We got into some good counts and took some tough pitches.”
Poxleitner was able to keep the Greyhounds at bay for two more innings, but they struck again in the fourth, scoring five runs on just two hits, one error and five walks. Poxleitner was removed from the game after the first four runs and replaced with Lower, who gave up an additional run before getting the final two outs.
The Greyhounds scored the game’s final run in the sixth when Cole Olson reached on an error and came around to score on Hemmesch’s single.
“Obviously against the No. 1 team on this side of the section you can’t walk 10 guys and make four errors in the field and expect to be in the game,” Alto said. “So that was a huge difference for us.”
The Mustangs will look to rebound from the loss today when they take on Win-E-Mac at 2:30 p.m. in an elimination game at BSU. Alto said just playing in the double-elimination phase of the section tournament is good experience for his team - they haven’t been here very recently.
“Being here, playing here is a big step up for the guys,” he said. “Our starting nine consists of two freshmen, three sophomores and an eighth grader. So this is part of the learning process. Any experience we can get, just being down here, is a step forward for us.”
Fosston 10, Kelliher/Nothome 0 (6 innings)
K/N 000 000 - 0-1-4
FOS 400 501 - 10-7-0
WP: Jesse Sather (6 IP, 8K, OBB, 1 H). LP: Trevor Poxleitner (3.2 IP, 5H, 1K, 12BB).
Highlights: F: Brock Hemmesch 3-4, 2 RBI, R; Cody Baumann 1-3, 2B, 3 RBI; Jesse Sather 0-1, 3 BB, 2 R. K-N: Joe Weidenborner 2B.