BEMIDJI -- In more ways than one, the Bemidji High School baseball team saved its best for last on Thursday.
The Lumberjacks cushioned a narrow lead with four big runs in their final plate appearances, suddenly cruising to a 9-4 win over Thief River Falls at the BSU baseball field. Ethan Biehn embodied that late success, not only contributing to the final hit parade but also wreaking havoc from the No. 9 spot in the batting order all game long.
“I know it’s my job to get on base and steal -- because the Biehn brothers have got some speed, so might as well steal when you get on base,” said Biehn. “I just trust everyone to get a hit. That job as a 9 hitter is to get on base and score.”
The sophomore finished 3-for-3 at the plate with three singles, a walk, two RBIs, a run and three stolen bases, lifting BHS to a 7-0 start to the season.
Oh, and he even made a surprise pitching appearance to record the final out of the game within two pitches. Biehn left the bases loaded in the seventh inning and kept the tying run standing in the on-deck circle.
“He was the best player on the field for us today, let’s be honest,” Bemidji head coach Mike Fogelson said. “He did everything. … I was really excited for him today because he was our catalyst.”
Biehn has shared middle infield duties this season with his older brother, Isaiah. Ethan occupies second base while Isaiah facilitates the defense at shortstop. They’re connected in the batting order, too, with Isaiah leading off and Ethan acting as the ever-important second leadoff hitter at the No. 9 spot.
“Ethan’s been solid all year. Today, he was really good for us,” Fogelson said. “Ethan is a very competitive kid. One of the most competitive kids I’ve been around. He fits right in with this group.”
The Jacks jumped out with four runs in the first inning, which included an RBI triple to the right-center gap by JD Kondos. Parker Mistic and Ethan Biehn added RBI singles for the 4-0 edge.
BHS allowed a three-run hiccup in the fourth inning -- all unearned runs -- which saw TRF climb back within 4-3. But Kondos regained his rhythm and struck out the next two batters to strand a baserunner 90 feet shy of a tie game.
Ethan Biehn scored in the bottom of the fourth, and, after the Prowlers (1-3) added a run in the sixth for a 5-4 ballgame, Biehn contributed to a bottom-six surge filled with five singles and four runs. Ben Corradi, Mistic, Josh Nyberg and Biehn all knocked in runs for the breathing room.
“I’ve got Grant (DeClusin), Josh, Parker right up ahead of me, and they always get the job done,” Biehn said. “It’s always fun to have them on base (so) I’ve got some ducks on the pond to score some RBIs or just get on myself and get around the bases as much as I can.”
After Thief River Falls loaded the bases in the seventh inning, Biehn induced an easy 5-3 groundout to end the drama.
He certainly wasn’t alone in propelling Bemidji to victory, though. Kondos batted 2-for-4 with two runs and tossed six innings of four-run ball (one earned run). Aaron Heger also went 2-for-4 with two runs, while Mistic had two hits and Corradi two runs.
“It’s obviously nice to get out of there with a win,” Fogelson said. “Hopefully we can play a little sharper game tomorrow, have a little more energy. But, again, winning today was the key. Sometimes you’ve got to go through one of those grind-it-out kind of wins.”
Bemidji will next hit the road for a 5 p.m. game at Sauk Rapids-Rice on Friday, April 30.
Bemidji 9, Thief River Falls 4
TRF 000 301 0 -- 4-6-5
BHS 400 104 X -- 9-13-2
WP: Kondos (6 IP, 6 H, 4 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 6 K)
LP: Kempert (4 IP, 7 H, 5 R, 3 ER, 0 BB, 1 K)