BASEBALL: Centaurs blast Fergus Falls, make big comeback in doubleheader sweep
The Bemidji American Legion Centaurs didn’t have to pick and choose on Thursday at the BSU baseball field – they did both.
BEMIDJI – What is the best way to win a game?
Should a team dominate from start to finish? Or is it preferable to have to come from behind, scrapping out a comeback victory?
The Bemidji American Legion Centaurs didn’t have to pick and choose on Thursday at the BSU baseball field – they did both. In a doubleheader against Fergus Falls, the Centaurs first trounced Fergus 15-1, then overcame a 5-0 first-inning deficit to win 10-6 in the second game.
“I'll take a lopsided win anytime we can get it,” Bemidji head coach Nate Blumhagen said. “But the big thing is having the two different games. We were talking a lot about how our approach and our defense and the little things in baseball make a difference.”
They certainly did in the second game, when the Centaurs (8-3-1) chipped away at the early hole with one run in the first inning and three more in the third. Another in the fourth tied the contest and set the stage for the resurgent win.
Bemidji received a particularly gritty performance from starting pitcher Aaron Heger in game two. After surrendering five runs in a first inning muddied by three errors, Heger settled down and tacked up three straight zeros.
He did concede a sixth run in the fifth inning, giving Fergus Falls a slim 6-5 lead. But the Centaurs’ offense picked him up, scoring five runs in the sixth inning to seal the outcome.
“Our guys talk about it all the time,” Blumhagen said. “We're really confident in what we can do at the plate. So as long as we can stay in it with our pitching and defense, we feel like we're going to get it done at the plate.”
Heger contributed at the dish as well, blooping a three-run single into left field during that sixth-inning rally to stretch Bemidji’s slight 7-6 lead to a more comfortable 10-6 advantage.
“It was good (to come through at the plate), because I definitely didn't pitch my best game today,” Heger said. “And to do that for the team in order to seal a win, especially with a good comeback, it meant a ton. Not just for me, just for the guys, because I kind of owed it back to them after that first inning.”
Heger’s clutch hit set it up for Hunter Brodina, his replacement on the bump, to close out the contest in the seventh with his second straight scoreless frame.
“He's been a dude on the mound for us,” Blumhagen said. “He threw big innings to close (our) game in Grand Forks. He shut down a really, really good Minnetonka team in our Burnsville tournament, and then left no doubt again today.”
Brodina earned the win with his two scoreless innings and allowed just one hit.
In the first game, the Centaurs seized the reins immediately with a prolific 10-run first inning. Ty Lundeen and Cam Justice led the way with home runs, and Bemidji was off and running from there.
The Centaurs added three more in the second inning and two in the third, then breezed to the win thanks to another strong pitching performance from Dan Clusiau.
The lefty starter went the distance, throwing all five innings of the abbreviated run-rule game and giving up just one run on four hits.
Bemidji returns to the diamond to face Detroit Lakes in a doubleheader starting at 5 p.m. on Tuesday, June 28, back at the BSU field.