Traveling for the first time in the new season, Bemidji baseball stayed perfect with 10-3 and 10-0 victories away at Rocori on Tuesday afternoon at the Cold Spring Baseball Park in the teams’ first meetings since the 2012 Section 8AAA playoffs.
Game 1: Bemidji 10-3 Rocori
Bemidji senior Aaron Heger provided major highlights with his bat and his arm in helping the Lumberjacks pull away for a comfortable victory in a cloudy, misty first game of the afternoon doubleheader.
With Brandon Lussier and JD Kondos aboard after a fielder’s choice and single in the top of the first, Heger stepped to the plate to deliver a one-out rocket over the left field wall just to the right of the foul pole that put Bemidji up 3-0.
Backed by his own bolt of lightning at the plate, Heger showed he would be difficult to keep up with on the mound by striking out the side in the bottom half of the first. He followed it up with two more punchouts an inning later to maintain the 3-0 advantage.
While Heger stayed perfect as late as the fourth inning, Bemidji tacked on another run in the top half to lead 4-0 before mustering another three runs home just an inning later. After a fielder’s choice and throwing error brought in Kondos, RBI singles from Ben Corradi and Josh Nyberg suddenly had the Lumberjacks up 7-0 going into the bottom of the fifth.
A pair of errors with two out in the bottom of the inning cost Bemidji a chance to escape the inning unscathed defensively, as the Spartans brought three across the plate to almost halve the deficit. But the Lumberjacks picked up a run in the top of the sixth before adding two more in the seventh thanks to a single from Parker Mistic and a groundout from Isaiah Biehn.
Heger finished with a final line of 5 1/3 innings pitched, surrendering three unearned runs on just three hits with four walks and 10 strikeouts. At the plate, his home run contributed to a 4 RBI game batting.
Game 2: Bemidji 10-0 Rocori (F/6)
For the third time in the season’s first six games, Bemidji won by way of the 10-run rule after pulling away late to sweep Rocori.
Just as they did in the first game of the afternoon, the Lumberjacks put runs on the board in the first inning starting with an RBI double from Kondos.
Baserunning creativity allowed Kondos to score from third later, as Corradi allowed himself to get caught in a rundown between first and second base on a pickoff throw.
Though he was not putting up the strikeout numbers of his first two outings of the season, Isaiah Biehn was still proving difficult to hit on the mound and benefitted from double plays that were turned by the Lumberjacks in each of the first two innings.
Biehn helped his own cause defensively after allowing a runner to reach on a walk with two outs in the second, firing a pickoff throw to Josh Nyberg for a swipe tag that ended the inning.
The Lumberjacks turned another double play in unusual circumstances to end the bottom of the third, successfully appealing that a Spartan runner had left second early on a flyout to right field.
More good defense followed in the fourth courtesy of catcher Parker Mistic’s impressive throw to second to catch a runner stealing.
Bemidji had added another run in the third to lead 3-0, but pulled away in the late innings beginning with an RBI single to the opposite field provided by Lussier.
Senior Grant Declusin provided two big hits in back-to-back innings that further put the game out of reach for Bemidji. He hammered a deep sacrifice fly to center in the fifth that scored Lussier, with Heger also scoring after a throw to third sailed out of play for the Spartans.
Walk troubles for Rocori’s relief pitching in the sixth provided Declusin another big opportunity with the bases loaded, and he promptly drove in two runs to stretch the lead out to 9-0.
One more run scored gave Biehn the chance to close out the shutout in the bottom of the sixth, which he did by striking out the side to finish with just two hits surrendered alongside two walks and five strikeouts.
Lussier finished 3-for-3 at the plate in game two while scoring four times, and Declusin tallied three RBIs.
The Lumberjacks stay perfect to start the spring with a 6-0 record, which they will take into a single game against Thief River Falls on Thursday at the BSU Ballpark. Gametime is scheduled at 4:30pm, with pregame at 4:15 on KBUN-FM 104.5 and KBUN1 at kbunsportsradio.com.