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BASEBALL: Centaurs drop two to start Gopher Classic

ST. PAUL -- The Bemidji American Legion baseball team got off to a rough start at the Gopher Classic Friday in St. Paul. The Centaurs dropped a pair of games as pool play began at the University of Northwestern, falling 8-3 to Billings, Mont., and 8-0 to Lino Lakes.

In the afternoon matchup, the Montana squad struck early and often. Billings brought three runs home in the top of the second before plating two runs apiece in each of the next two frames to take a 7-0 lead.

Bemidji scratched its first run across in the bottom of the fourth, but Billings regained a seven-run lead in the top of the sixth. In the seventh Henry Michalicek scored on a bases-loaded hit by pitch and Matt Fitzgerald singled to cut the gap to five runs, but the comeback attempt ended there.

Caleb Carlson led the Centaurs at the plate, going 3-for-5 with two singles and a double. Matt Johnson started on the mound and went four innings, allowing seven runs on 10 hits with one strikeout to take the loss.

Lino Lakes began the night contest with a run in the bottom of the first inning to get off on the right foot. The lead held at 1-0 until LL added two in the fourth, and then pulled away with a run in the fifth and four in the sixth to secure the victory.

Carlson and Casey McNamara each finished 2-for-3 at the plate in the late game for Bemidji. Jonny Melhus sustained the loss on the mound, pitching 4 1/3 innings and giving up four runs on four hits with one strikeout.

The Centaurs continue pool play today with a 2 p.m. game against Pierre, S.D. in St. Paul.