Bemidji baseball overturned a three-run deficit in the final two innings to pull out an 8-6 victory at Brainerd after dropping a 10-7 result to Andover earlier in the day in a triangular on Thursday at Brainerd’s Don Adamson Field.
Andover 10-7 Bemidji
The Lumberjacks were victimized by an eight-run third inning from the Huskies, but fought back to put the tying run on base in the seventh before finally succumbing to defeat.
Andover jumped in front in the first after back-to-back singles against Jacks starter Gavin Kapaun eventually turned into an RBI groundout.
The first two innings went quietly at the plate for the Lumberjacks, who struggled initially to solve top Andover starter Josh Novak. With two out in the third, Landon Hanson produced the first baserunner of the day for Bemidji with help from an infield single.
Hanson stole second before Will Zellmann drew a walk on a full count, which set up Hunter Brodina to drive in the Lumberjacks’ first run and tie the game.
But it was the bottom of the third inning that changed the game fully in Andover’s favor. A pair of singles and a walk immediately loaded the bases for the Huskies to use a sacrifice fly to recapture the lead.
After Kapaun picked up a strikeout for the second out, a hit batter re-loaded the bases for Keaton Coe and Teddy Heller to each walk in runs and prompt a pitching change with the score now 4-1. New pitcher Ben Corradi was greeted with a two-run knock by the Huskies’ leadoff hitter Paddy Kelly that extended the lead again.
A wild pitch plated another run before Andover completed the lengthy two-out rally with two more run-scoring hits to suddenly lead 9-1.
Despite being knocked around in the third, the Jacks responded with four runs in the top of the fourth–all coming with two outs. Ryan Loewe kicked off the scoring by driving in Ty Lundeen on an RBI single.
Dan Clusiau drew a walk and Hanson was hit by a pitch to bring Zellmann to bat with the bases loaded. The senior powered Novak’s first pitch to deep right field, clearing the bases on a double that cut the lead to 9-5 and chased the Huskies’ starter from the game.
Ethan Biehn made his first pitching appearance of the season over the next three innings for the Jacks. He allowed one run on two hits while striking out two, and received support in the field on plays like Clusiau’s reaching grab in center field in the sixth.
Another two-out run surrendered in the bottom of the sixth left Bemidji trailing 10-5 entering the seventh, but the Jacks loaded the bases with two outs and got a run across thanks to Zellmann’s walk.
Brodina followed with an infield single that moved everyone up and put the tying run aboard with the score now 10-7.
The late flurry gave the Lumberjacks hope, but Cam Justice popped out on the infield to end the threat and leave the Jacks just short in a game where they left 11 runners on base.
Zellmann finished the game with five runs batted in, while Brodina went 2-for-4 at the plate while driving in two runs.
Bemidji 8-6 Brainerd
Back for the nightcap after Andover defeated Brainerd 10-2 in the second game of the day, the Lumberjacks mounted a comeback over the final two innings to secure a victory in their final game of the regular season.
Lundeen started the scoring in the top of the first with an RBI single that brought Zellmann home with two outs.
Zellmann turned into run-provider in the second inning with a sacrifice fly that scored Clusiau for a 2-0 advantage.
Brainerd’s frequent contact off Bemidji starter Peyton Neadeau produced two runs in the bottom of the inning on an RBI single and sacrifice fly.
The Jacks rebounded in the top of the third thanks to the power of Lundeen. The senior cleanup hitter blasted a solo home run to straightaway center field that again put Bemidji in front.
But the Warriors turned around to score four runs in the third and chase Neadeau from the mound. Eli Hoelz struck a two-run double on an 0-2 pitch that returned the lead to Brainerd.
Cayden Brown then followed a walk and wild pitch with a two-run single to inflict further damage and force the pitching change with the score now 6-3.
In spite of an initially shaky entry on the mound, Brodina worked around two walks with a strikeout and fielder’s choice that ended the third. He later produced a quick fifth inning by striking out the side to conclude a run of six straight batters retired.
Bemidji’s rally at the plate kicked off in the sixth inning. Walks by Loewe and Hanson were followed by a single from Neadeau to load the bases. Zellmann grounded into a fielder’s choice that retired Neadeau, but it also brought in a run to cut the lead to two.
Two batters later, Justice delivered a clutch two-out, two-run double deep to right-center field that tied the game.
The contributions of Justice extended from his bat to his glove on a vital catch at first base in the bottom of the sixth that took away extra bases–and likely a Warriors run as well.
The seventh inning opened with a single from Biehn that set up Corradi with a runner aboard. The third basemen promptly lined a double to the gap in left-center, bringing home Biehn for the go-ahead run.
Things got even better for the Jacks with a wild pitch and subsequent errant throw to third that gave Corradi the chance to race home and extend the lead.
Brodina took care of the rest, wrapping up 4 2/3 innings of no-hit, shutout relief pitching with back-to-back strikeouts to work around a one-out walk, giving Bemidji one final section victory entering next week’s playoffs.
The senior’s final line on the mound included four walks and a hit batter alongside seven strikeouts. Justice and Lundeen each tallied two RBI, while Lundeen, Neadeau, and Biehn each posted two hits.
The Lumberjacks (15-5) were voted as the #1 seed for the upcoming Section 8AAAA playoffs in Friday’s coaches’ vote. They will await Tuesday’s play-in winner between #8 Buffalo and #9 Brainerd for a first round game on Wednesday at 4:30pm at the BSU Ballpark. Pregame will be at 4:10 on The BUN Sportsradio 104.5 and Lumberjacks1 online.