Bemidji baseball clung to a 1-0 lead going into the sixth inning before Sartell-St. Stephen broke through for its first hits, propelling the Sabres to a 3-1 defeat of the Lumberjacks in a key Section 8AAA meeting on Thursday afternoon at St. Cloud Orthopedics Field.
With section playoff seeding implications as the backdrop for the first meeting between the teams since 2017, the Lumberjacks took the lead in the top of the second inning through an RBI single from Grant Declusin to score Ben Corradi from second base.
Bemidji had runners positioned at second and third with two out later in the inning, but ultimately had to settle for the one run.
The fast-paced game revolved around the glittering pitching of Bemidji’s Isaiah Biehn and Sartell’s Tyler Phelps-Hemmesch, with both starters dueling late into the game. Fresh off his five-inning perfect game last Tuesday against Alexandria, Biehn was once again spinning a gem through the first four innings.
The Lumberjack senior permitted a Sartell batter to reach for the first time in the fifth when Steven Brinkerhoff walked to lead off the inning. But after surviving a close pick-off attempt from Biehn to Josh Nyberg just after getting aboard, the Sabre runner was out on another pickoff attempt one batter later.
Struggles to add more to the lead kept Bemidji with a narrow 1-0 advantage going into the bottom of the sixth, setting up Sartell’s bottom of the order to turn the tide. Kalen Lewis lined a 3-2 pitch past a diving Brandon Lussier at shortstop to break up the no-hit bid on the first at bat of the inning.
Phelps-Hemmesch’s bunt was sailed into the outfield by Biehn as he tried to throw out the lead runner at second, leading to a sacrifice bunt to put runners at second and third with only one out. That brought Sartell leadoff hitter Charlie Kent to the plate for a two-run, go-ahead double.
An infield error by Lussier with two outs added a further insurance run for the Sabres, scoring Kent from third base to take a 3-1 lead into the seventh.
Parker Mistic snuck a one-out single through the infield to finally chase Phelps-Hemmesch from the game at his pitch limit, but Jackson Greenlun retired Bemidji’s next two batters on a flyout and fielder’s choice to ensure that Sartell will hold the tiebreaker between the teams in the final QRF seeding for the playoffs.
Bemidji’s fifth loss of the week puts the Lumberjacks at 10-5 overall heading into another Section 8AAA game on Monday at Detroit Lakes at 4pm. Pregame will be at 3:45 on KBUN-FM 104.5 and KBUN1 at kbunsportsradio.com.