BEMIDJI -- With a flex of its muscles in game one and a gritty victory in game two, the Bemidji High School baseball team further proved itself as a legitimate contender on Thursday. The Lumberjacks walloped St. Cloud Tech 16-0 and then ousted Brainerd 6-1 in a doubleheader at the BSU baseball field.
“Probably the biggest surprise for me, not knowing these guys really well, is how much pop we have in our lineup,” BHS head coach Mike Fogelson said. “Everybody in our lineup had good at-bats, so it was a lot of fun.”
Bemidji has raced out to a convincing 4-0 start this spring. It’s early, of course, but the Jacks haven’t opened 4-0 since at least 2004. The dominant manner in which they’ve done so invites BHS fans to dream of what could be come June.
“We’ve always expected -- especially for our seniors -- that we were going to be pretty tough to beat,” senior captain Aaron Heger said. “In past years, we haven’t started out that hot, but this year is super exciting with how good we’re starting off now.”
In the first inning of game one, Bemidji scored four runs before recording an out. Heger mashed a three-run home run well over the left field fence, and the Lumberjacks hit for the cycle as a team as part of the 5-0 start.
In the second inning, JD Kondos knocked an RBI double, and then BHS piled on six more runs in the third. Isaiah Biehn ripped an RBI double down the left field line, Kondos had an RBI single, and Heger launched another homer -- this one a two-run shot that soared over the 400-foot sign in center.
“It’s just the results of thousands of balls in the offseason,” said Heger, who finished the doubleheader 4-for-5 with two homers, two doubles and seven RBIs. “I go up there, get low and make sure my head’s down.”
Heger did the rest from the mound, scattering six hits over his complete-game effort and striking out five. He escaped a two-on, one-out jam in the first and later a bases-loaded jam in the fourth to preserve the shutout.
The offense wasn’t quite done, either. Brandon Lussier missed a grand slam by inches in the top of the fourth -- settling instead for a bases-clearing double -- as Bemidji racked up 16 runs by game’s end.
“When it’s everyone (hitting), it’s so uplifting because we know we can count on everybody no matter the situation,” Heger said. “It’s absolutely unreal. Everyone 1-9 in our lineup can hit.”
Game two broke out as a pitchers’ duel between Biehn and Brainerd’s Jack Schafer in the early goings.
The Lumberjacks benefitted from an error in the third, as Josh Nyberg scored all the way from first after Ethan Biehn’s sacrifice bunt was thrown into right field. Ethan Biehn then scored on a Kondos safety squeeze.
The Warriors (0-3) halved the deficit off Schafer’s RBI single in the fourth, but in the fifth, BHS finally solved Schafer -- racking up three runs on four extra-base hits within a five-batter span.
Isaiah Biehn led off with a double before Lussier and Heger tacked on RBI doubles. Ben Corradi finished the flurry by scoring Heger on a triple to push the lead to 5-1.
Lussier added an RBI double in the sixth and then pitched the seventh, escaping a bases-loaded jam unscathed.
“We’ve got some studs,” Fogelson said. “Heger, Lussier, Biehn, they’re the start of it. They’re really dynamic players … Those three guys, who happen to be our captains, they’re studs. And I think they’re going to be studs all year for us.”
Bemidji hits the road for the first time on Tuesday, April 27, for a 4 p.m. doubleheader against Rocori in Cold Spring.
Bemidji 16, St. Cloud Tech 0
SCT 000 00 -- 0-6-2
BHS 516 4X -- 16-14-0
WP: Heger (CG, 5 IP, 6 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 3 K)
LP: Kenning (2.2 IP, 10 H, 12 R, 7 ER, 2 BB, 3 K)
Bemidji 6, Brainerd 1
BRD 000 100 0 -- 1-2-1
BEM 002 031 X -- 6-7-5
WP: I. Biehn (6 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER,
LP: Schafer (4.1 IP, 5 R, 3 ER, 4 BB, 2 K)