BASEBALL: Lumberjacks stay red hot, roll to big win over Wadena-Deer Creek
The Bemidji High School baseball team made quick work of Wadena-Deer Creek on Thursday at the BSU baseball field.
BEMIDJI – Before the Bemidji High School baseball team kicked off its 2023 season, head coach Mike Fogelson preached to his team about living in the moment and not wasting any innings.
Ironically, the senior-heavy team missed out on five innings in its first two home games. The Lumberjacks followed their 15-1 win over East Grand Forks on Wednesday with a 12-1 victory over Wadena-Deer Creek on Thursday at the BSU baseball field. Both games ended after the top of the fifth inning via the mercy rule.
“We have a month (before the Section 8-4A Tournament), but it’s going to happen fast,” Fogelson said. “We talk about it all the time with this group -- there’s only so many innings left in their high school baseball careers. We need to make sure we don’t leave any innings out there. They’ve responded to that challenge really well over the last three days by not taking anything for granted and living in every one of those moments.”
Gavin Kapaun made his first varsity appearance on the mound for BHS (6-1). WDC loaded the bases before recording an out in the top of the first inning, testing the Jacks’ rookie early. Kapaun got Tyson Barthel to ground into a 6-4-3 double play, then Evan Lunde lined out to left field, ending the frame with minimal damage.
After the first inning, Kapaun settled in. He pitched all five innings without allowing an earned run. Kapaun surrendered just two hits and struck out eight batters.
“We’ve seen a lot of good things from him in preseason,” Fogelson said. “We feel real good about him. That’s a fun one for him to get on the mound in varsity baseball and pitch like that.”
The Lumberjacks aided Kapaun with another stellar offensive performance. RBI singles from Will Zellmann and Dan Clusiau, and an RBI double from Ethan Biehn, gave BHS a 4-1 lead in the first inning. Ben Corradi doubled in three more during a six-run third inning.
Corradi finished 3 for 4 at the plate with four RBIs in the leadoff position.
“It’s contagious,” Corradi said about Bemidji’s offensive breakthrough. “It gets you fired up to hit and makes you want to keep hitting. You want the guy in front of you to get on so you can give the guy behind you a chance to hit again.”
Wadena-Deer Creek (7-2) was a late addition to the Jacks’ schedule. The Wolverines are a perennial Class AA power, making it to the state tournament out of Section 8AA and 6AA in 2021 and 2022, respectively.
“They are a good team,” Fogelson said of Wadena-Deer Creek. “You don’t want to get caught up in what level they are because they’re scrappy, just like (East Grand Forks) yesterday. We need to focus on us. We didn’t talk about them at all. We talked about what we needed to do, which was throw a lot of strikes, which (Kapaun) did. (We needed) to be really aggressive at the plate.
“We were in attack mode again today, just like yesterday. I’d put us up against anybody when we’re playing like that. We need to understand that we have to play like that all the time.”
Bemidji scored 27 runs in eight offensive innings in its first two home games. Since dropping their first game this season against Moohread, the Lumberjacks have six consecutive wins, outscoring opponents 66-10.
“We laid out three words (to describe) our season,” Corradi said. “Focus: we need to focus on everything we do. Grind: we need to grind on and off the field. (Champions): we need to act like champions in the classroom, on the field and everywhere we go.”
BHS is back on the road for a 4 p.m. first pitch at Detroit Lakes on Friday, May 5.
Bemidji 12, Wadena-Deer Creek 1 (F/5)
WDC 100 00 – 1-2-2
BHS 416 1X – 12-14-1
WP: Kapaun (CG, 5 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 8 K)
LP: Hamann (2 IP, 11 H, 11 R, 10 ER, 1 BB, 2 K)