Baseball: Lumberjacks rally to defeat biggest rival
Bemidji 9, Warriors 5 The key: The Warriors left 14 runners on base, including the bases loaded twice Overall: Brd 1-2, Bem 2-0 Next: Brainerd at Rocori 4 p.m. Thursday (2). For the first time in recent memory, it wasn't a Section 8-3A game when ...
Bemidji 9, Warriors 5
The key: The Warriors left 14 runners on base, including the bases loaded twice
Overall: Brd 1-2, Bem 2-0
Next: Brainerd at Rocori 4 p.m. Thursday (2).
For the first time in recent memory, it wasn't a Section 8-3A game when the Bemidji Lumberjacks and Brainerd Warriors met.
The Minnesota State High School League bumped baseball up to four classes this spring, assigning Brainerd to Section 8-4A, while the Lumberjacks remained in 8-3A. But the difference in classes doesn't diminish the game's importance.
"This is our biggest rival," Bemidji coach Mike Fogelson said. "Brainerd sets the bar for us. I've always said (Warriors coach) Lowell Scearcy does such a great job here so it doesn't mean a lot for section play anymore-at least this year-but it's still a big game on our schedule."
Both teams were coming off wacky wins Thursday. The Warriors outlasted Alexandria 18-17 with the teams combining for 34 hits and 11 errors. Meanwhile, at East Grand Forks, the Lumberjacks deluged the Green Wave 17-0.
In Brainerd's home opener Friday against the Lumberjacks, the teams combined to walk 18 batters. But Bemidji prevailed as it rallied from a 4-run deficit with eight unanswered runs for a 9-5 victory at Adamson Field.
"I thought the game was ugly to start for both teams," Fogelson said. "Pitchers were struggling for both teams to throw strikes. Brainerd did a nice job taking advantage of it early. It looked like we were in trouble. Our guys had a nice response-showed a little grit."
Trailing 5-1 in the fourth, Bemidji erupted for four runs thanks to a bases-loaded walk that preceded a 3-run double by Matt Morgan. The Lumberjacks went ahead on another bases-loaded walk in the fifth, an RBI double by Cameron Boen in the sixth, and in the seventh on an RBI double by Otto Grimm and run-scoring single by Erik Fitzgerald.
"Until their ninth run, every single run they got-the first eight were the result of walks or errors. That's how they got on base," Scearcy said. "They did hit the ball. They got some timely hits, but we gave them an awful lot with walks and errors. We just have to shore that up."
Morgan finished with two hits and Grimm and Fitzgerald each drove in two runs.
Jack Gaerets went 3-for-4 to lead the Warriors, who left 14 runners on base, including the bases loaded in the second and seventh. Braydon Borg and Hanson Devine each added two hits for Brainerd.
The Warriors' offense suffered a setback in the third when shortstop and No. 3 hitter Tristan Brecht injured a foot trying to field a deflected hit, left the game and did not return. Thursday at Moorhead, Brecht went 5-for-5, hitting two 2-run homers, doubled and drove in a school-record eight runs.
"There was no contact," Scearcy said. "He just twisted his foot a little bit. We hope it's not too serious. That's a big hole in our offense when Tristan's not in there. We'll just have to wait and see."
Trailing 1-0, Brainerd struck for five runs in the third with Devine stroking a 2-run single, Meyer a run-scoring single and Geraets a 2-run single.
Grimm got the win with 4.1 innings in relief. He wasn't sharp as he walked six, struck out four and allowed seven hits, but he surrendered no runs.
"He's a tough kid," Fogelson said. "He's a sophomore, but he's already a pretty seasoned kid. He did a nice job. He had a big at bat at the plate and came in and pitched really well."
After both teams' offensive explosions Thursday, Scearcy was expecting a 1-run game Friday.
"I actually thought today it was going to be 2-1 the way the wind was blowing," he said. "You take this game and put no walks on either team and it probably is 2-1."
Bemidji 001 411 2-9 9 0
Brainerd 005 000 0-5 9 3
Bemidji: George Loxtercamp, Otto Grimm (4) and Matt Morgan.
Brainerd: Jake Meyer, Braydon Borg (4), Dylan Harbo (5), Hanson Devine (7) and Allen Jevning.
2B: Bem-Grimm, Morgan, Caleb Carlson, Cameron Boen
SB: Brd-Chris Pederson
Sac: Brd-Bryce Flanagan
RBIs: Brd-Meyer, Jack Geraets 2, Hanson Devine 2; Bem-Grimm 2, Erik Fitzgerald 2, Morgan 3, C. Carlson, Boen
LOB: Brd 14, Bem 13
MIKE BIALKA may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 218-855-5861. Follow on Twitter at www.twitter.com/bertsballpark .