Playing its fourth game of the week, Bemidji baseball ran its record to 8-0 by exploding for seven runs in the final two innings of a 9-2 victory at Sauk Rapids-Rice on Friday afternoon at Bob Cross Park.
The first five innings of the afternoon were a tightly matched pitchers’ dual between Bemidji’s Brandon Lussier and Sauk Rapids’ Landon Lunser, who each fired two scoreless frames to start the game despite Lussier loading the bases in the bottom of the first.
Lussier’s solid start was bolstered by a highlight play defensively from Isaiah Biehn at shortstop in the second inning on a sliding backhand play with the glove that turned into a putout at first.
The Lumberjacks scratched out the game’s first run on a sacrifice fly from Biehn in the top of the third, but the Storm got the run back on an RBI single from catcher Jeff Solorz in the fourth.
Lunser permitted just two Bemidji hits during his five innings of pitching, but one made a lot of noise. Making his first start of the season, senior left fielder Alec Meland went deep to left field to lead off the top of the fifth inning and restore a 2-1 lead to the visitors.
Sauk Rapids responded once again in the bottom of the inning, using an infield error and RBI double to plate another tying run before Lussier left two stranded on a flout to end the fifth.
Locked in a 2-2 game with just two hits to their name, the Lumberjacks finally made a massive breakthrough in the sixth against four relief pitchers from the Storm. After JD Kondos reached on a single and Aaron Heger advanced him on a groundout, Kondos took third on a wild pitch prior to a walk from Ben Corradi. That set up a daring double steal from the Lumberjacks, as the Storm attempted to throw back to the plate after going to second.
Now back in the lead, Bemidji walked in five consecutive plate appearances beginning with Corradi to bring in two more runs–one via walk and another on a wild pitch for a 5-2 lead. Isaiah Biehn flew out to shallow right field, setting the stage for Lussier to deliver a major blow at the plate.
Eleven Lumberjacks came to bat in the inning, pushing six runs across for an 8-2 advantage. Nyberg worked a quiet bottom of the sixth in relief, but had some help thanks to a crisp double play from his infield.
Meland concluded a tremendous day at the plate by smacking an RBI double to add another insurance run in the top of the seventh.
Lussier secured the win on the mound thanks to allowing two unearned runs on five hits with three walks and six strikeouts. Meland finished 2-for-2 batting, reaching twice on walks while scoring three runs and tallying three RBI thanks to the home run, double, and one of his walks. Bemidji was outhit 7-5 by the Storm, but drew 10 walks–eight of which came against relief pitchers.
The Lumberjacks remain perfect at 8-0 to start the season heading into a doubleheader showdown with Section 8AAA rivals Alexandria at the BSU Ballpark on Tuesday. Game one will be at 4pm, with pregame at 3:45 on KBUN-FM 104.5 and KBUN1 at kbunsportsradio.com.