HIGHLIGHTS: Bemidji Foiled Twice By Willmar In Top-3 Showdown

Bemidji baseball was defeated twice in a doubleheader for a second straight day on Tuesday, as the Class AAA #1 Lumberjacks lost 6-2 and 6-3 to #3 Willmar in a highly-anticipated twinbill at Bill Taunton Stadium in Willmar.

Game 1: Willmar 6-2 Bemidji

Backed by a complete game from ace pitcher Andrew Baumgart, the Cardinals remained perfect at 11-0 thanks to four key two-out runs in the second inning off Aaron Heger and Bemidji.

The Lumberjacks notched the game’s first run on a sacrifice fly from Ben Corradi in the first, but saw the inning end on the same play when a successful Willmar appeal caught JD Kondos leaving second base early tagging up. After putting runners on second and third with two out in the bottom of the second, the Cardinals took the lead on a 2-run single from Alex Schramm.

A hit batter loaded the bases again to set the table for Sam Etterman to drive two more runs home on a bouncing infield chopper that eluded Josh Nyberg at first base.

Heger responded at the plate with a solo home run to left in the fourth inning for his fourth long ball of the season and a needed jolt of life for the Lumberjacks.

The host Cardinals again had an answer, using a triple and RBI single to get the run back in the bottom of the inning before getting yet another two-out RBI from Chase Dirksen in the fifth for a 6-2 lead.

Bemidji made serious noise in the seventh when Parker Mistic and Josh Nyberg singled with one out to reach base, setting up a walk by Ethan Biehn to load the bases. Representing the tying run, leadoff hitter Isaiah Biehn smacked a line drive that was caught at second by Cayden Hansen before he doubled off Ethan Biehn at first to end the game.

Heger took his first loss of the season on the mound, pitching a complete game of six innings while allowing six earned runs on six hits with five walks and six strikeouts. At the plate, he went 2-for-3 with the home run, while Mistic was 2-for-2 with a pair of singles and a walk.

Baumgart was the winning pitcher with his seventh victory of the season, allowing two runs (one earned) on six hits with a pair of walks and seven strikeouts in a complete-game effort.

Game 2: Willmar 6-3 Bemidji

Another four-running inning–this time in the first–propelled Willmar to another victory over the Lumberjacks, with yet another complete game delivered on the mound in the winning performance.

Benefitting from four hits against Bemidji pitcher Brandon Lussier and an error for their first baserunner of the inning, the Cardinals raced out to a 4-0 lead that ultimately would never be caught.

JD Kondos brought home Bemidji’s first run on a sacrifice fly to score Isaiah Biehn in the top of the third, but a bounding infield grounder off the mound from Heger turned into a double play to end the inning for the Lumberjacks.

Lussier settled in to allow just two baserunners and one hit in the second through fourth frames, while two more runs scored for the Lumberjacks in the fifth. With the bases loaded, Kondos again brought a run home by way of a sacrifice fly, with Heger following suit to pull the Lumberjacks within 4-3.

That was all the closer the Lumberjacks would get the rest of the way. An RBI triple by Hunter Magnuson picked up another run for Willmar in the bottom half of the fifth before Ian Koosman drove him in to stretch the lead to 6-3.

Another double play from the top of the order ended Bemidji’s last threat in the top of the seventh, as Lussier grounded out on the infield.

Lussier finished with a final line of six runs allowed–four of which were earned–on eight hits, while posting eight strikeouts against no walks.

Sam Etterman went the complete game for Willmar, allowing three runs–two earned–on six hits, with two walks and four strikeouts.

Bemidji has lost four straight games across two days of play to drop to 10-4 overall. The Lumberjacks will head into another top-5 Class AAA meeting at Section 8AAA rival Sartell-St. Stephen on Thursday at 5pm. Pregame will be at 4:45 on KBUN-FM 104.5 and KBUN1 at kbunsportsradio.com.