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BASEBALL: Tom Keohen homers twice as Beavers conclude season with loss to UMD

Tom Keohen did everything in his power to ensure that his final game at the BSU baseball field was a win. The Bemidji State senior infielder slugged two home runs over the left-field fence on Saturday, taking full advantage of favorable northward wind gusts and driving in three runs.

051122.S.BP.BSUBASE2 Tom Keohen, Matthew Kucera.jpg
Bemidji State senior Tom Keohen (13) goes to tap helmets with freshman Matthew Kucera (11) after Keohen hit a home run in the second inning against Minnesota Duluth on Saturday, May 7, 2022, at the BSU baseball field.
Madelyn Haasken / Bemidji Pioneer
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BEMIDJI – Tom Keohen did everything in his power to ensure that his final game at the BSU baseball field was a win.

The Bemidji State senior infielder slugged two home runs over the left-field fence on Saturday, taking full advantage of favorable northward wind gusts and driving in three runs.

The Beavers as a whole put up a spirited fight in their last game of the season against Minnesota Duluth, but ultimately, they fell just a bit short. After BSU tied it 8-8 in the bottom of the eighth inning on a two-out single by Tom Magnusson, UMD retook the lead with a solo home run in the ninth and hung on to win 9-8.

“That's kind of the epitome of our season,” interim head coach Matt Ellinghuysen said. “We’ve played a lot of close games all year. Like we told the guys at the end, obviously the outcome today wasn't what we wanted. But ultimately, we've taken steps in the right direction with the program as a whole in a positive manner.”

Bemidji State (6-40, 3-29 NSIC) went down quietly in the ninth but produced plenty of offensive fireworks earlier in the contest. Keohen gave the Beavers a second-inning lead with his first round-tripper, a two-run shot that briefly put BSU up 2-1.

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051122.S.BP.BSUBASE2 James Wirt.jpg
Bemidji State junior James Wirt hits the ball for a single in the third inning against Minnesota Duluth on Saturday, May 7, 2022, at the BSU baseball field.
Madelyn Haasken / Bemidji Pioneer

The Bulldogs (22-23, 16-16 NSIC) answered with two in the third, but Keohen came through again in the fourth to tie it 3-3 with a solo shot. Later in the inning, Stephane Lagasse scored on a wild pitch to give the Beavers a 4-3 lead.

“I kind of just put everything else behind me and just had fun,” Keohen said. “Just kind of dumbed everything down, (like) what the coaches said, just enjoy it.”

Minnesota Duluth would not go away, plating two runs in the fifth and three in the sixth to go up 8-4. But BSU didn’t quit either, scoring thrice in the sixth to match UMD and cut the deficit to 8-7. That set the stage for Magnusson’s game-tying single.

Though Bemidji State couldn’t finish off the season with a win, the Beavers remained in good spirits after the game. After all, it was the first time all year they were able to play a series at their home ballpark.

051122.S.BP.BSUBASE2 Stephane Lagasse.jpg
Bemidji State junior Stephane Lagasse goes to the dugout after scoring in the fourth inning against Minnesota Duluth on Saturday, May 7, 2022, at the BSU baseball field.
Madelyn Haasken / Bemidji Pioneer

“It was awesome,” Ellinghuysen said. “Ultimately, our guys deserve this. All the hard work, the travel, you name it (that) they put into this program. Whether it's the first-years or guys who have been here for five years, it's definitely rewarding to actually get a couple home games to end their (season).”

BSU honored departing seniors Jackson Back, Parker Borg, Travis Carruth, Alex Fietek, Sam Kalberer, Keohen, Lagasse, Magnusson, John Perkins and MacGregor Sharpe during and after the game on Saturday – paying tribute to a group Ellinghuysen thinks has helped build a brighter future for Bemidji State baseball.

“What these seniors did all year and today is definitely a big part of where we're going to be in the next two to three years,” Ellinghuysen said.

Keohen, who came back for his fifth season after encouragement from his teammates, concurred with his coach’s assessment.

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“We're the team that's changing it right now,” Keohen said. “You can kind of see it in all of our games. We're right there. We’re strong in pitching, strong in hitting, strong in the field. It’s not going to look like the normal Beavers next year. They’re going to be a problem. So I'm excited to see what they got.”

Minnesota Duluth 9, Bemidji State 8

UMD 102 023 001 – 9-15-1

BSU 020 203 010 – 8-15-2

WP: Kuseske (1.2 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 1 K)

LP: Biehn (1 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 0 K)

S: Wattermann (8)

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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