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BASEBALL: Woodpeckers sweep Thief River Falls, notch 4th straight win

The Bemidji Junior Legion baseball team was in control on Thursday at the BSU baseball field.

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The Woodpeckers high five after a 10-0 win against Thief River Falls in game one of a doubleheader on Thursday, June 30, 2022, at the BSU baseball field.
Madelyn Haasken / Bemidji Pioneer
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BEMIDJI – The Bemidji Junior Legion baseball team was in control on Thursday at the BSU baseball field.

The Woodpeckers run-ruled Thief River Falls in a clean, efficient 10-0 win, then handled TRF 8-4 in the second game of the two teams’ doubleheader. But despite the clean sweep, which gave Bemidji its third and fourth straight wins, head coach Travis Carruth still saw plenty of room for improvement.

“I liked the effort we gave,” Carruth said. “Especially in the first game, we played clean defensively, had some timely hitting, good situational hitting. (In the) second game, (we) relaxed a little bit, stopped doing some of the little things right and (it was) a little closer than it probably should have been. But a win’s a win.”

In the first contest, the Woodpeckers (9-5) scored in nearly every inning while keeping Thief River Falls off the scoreboard entirely. All 10 Bemidji batters that stepped to the plate hit safely, with five hitters collecting multiple knocks.

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Bemidji's Owen Frazer, right, runs to third base in the sixth inning during game one of a doubleheader against Thief River Falls on Thursday, June 30, 2022, at the BSU baseball field.
Madelyn Haasken / Bemidji Pioneer

In the second game, the Woodpeckers jumped out to a big lead after a seven-run first inning. They scored one run the rest of the way, and Carruth thought they left some opportunities on the field.

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“(We) made way too many mistakes on the basepaths and ran ourselves out of a couple of potential big innings,” Carruth said. “Honestly, (it’s a) long day at the field with these doubleheaders, but (we’ve) got to try and stay sharp and keep doing little things right.”

Gavin Kapaun had a stellar performance on the mound to key Bemidji’s sterling performance in the first game, firing five shutout innings with just three hits allowed to make the Woodpeckers’ consistent offense stand up. Stonewall Gessner navigated through some traffic in the second game – including two Bemidji errors in TRF’s four-run third inning – to finish with the win, allowing four runs on five hits, only two of which were earned.

“We just need to keep building up to the playoffs this year,” Gessner said. “And getting these two division wins is big for that.”

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Bemidji's Ryan Loewe, left, congratulates Landon Hanson after Hanson hit a home run during game one of a doubleheader against Thief River Falls on Thursday, June 30, 2022, at the BSU baseball field.
Madelyn Haasken / Bemidji Pioneer

But like his coach, Gessner recognizes that the Woodpeckers have plenty to correct if they want to contend for a championship this year.

“That's pretty big, because no matter how much we hit, if we can't play defense behind that, we're not going to win the games that we need to,” Gessner said. “If we don't get better, we're not going to do what we want to do this season and get to state.”

Yet it wasn’t all doom and gloom on Thursday – far from it. The Woodpeckers recognized both the value of picking up two wins and the opportunity to polish up their shortcomings in the lower-stakes environment of practice.

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Bemidji's Gavin Kapaun throws a pitch in the third inning during game one of a doubleheader against Thief River Falls on Thursday, June 30, 2022, at the BSU baseball field.
Madelyn Haasken / Bemidji Pioneer

“That's the biggest thing,” Carruth said. “It's hard to coach in the middle of a game, but it just gives you things to work on at your next practice. (We’ll) address it there and make sure that they don't happen again, which we've done a good job with this year.”

Bemidji’s certainly in a solid position with its overall record – an indication that the Woodpeckers have already bettered themselves plenty this season.

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“From the start, we have improved a lot, in my mind,” Carruth said. “But (we’re) just trying to keep continuing to take steps in the right direction every time we come to the ballpark, and I thought today, we did so, taking a few more good steps towards the end goal.”

Bemidji 10, Thief River Falls 0

TRF 000 000 – 0-3-2

BEM 410 221 – 10-15-1

WP: Kapaun (5 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 4 K)

LP: Lunsetter (4 IP, 10 H, 7 R, 6 ER, 3 BB, 5 K)

Bemidji 8, Thief River Falls 4

TRF 004 000 0 – 4-6-3

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BEM 710 000 X – 8-14-3

WP: Gessner (4 IP, 5 H, 4 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 4 K)

LP: Zutz (4 IP, 12 H, 8 R, 6 ER, 2 BB, 3 K)

Related Topics: BASEBALL
Christian Babcock is a sports reporter at the Bemidji Pioneer. He trekked to Bemidji from his hometown of Campbell, Calif., after graduating from the Cronkite School at Arizona State University in 2021. Follow him on Twitter at @CB_Journalist for updates on the Lumberjacks and Beavers or to suggest your favorite local restaurant.
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