Unearned runs in the second and third innings for #5 Rogers were enough to send #1 Bemidji to a narrow 2-1 loss in a Section 8AAAA quarterfinal on Thursday at Bemidji State University, leaving the Lumberjacks in the elimination bracket next week.
The result was the fifth time in six losses this season that the Jacks fell by a single run, with every baserunner precious for both teams throughout the evening. After reaching on a leadoff single, Royals senior Noah Gordon was quickly erased from the basepaths when Lumberjacks catcher Ryan Loewe and second baseman Hunter Brodina combined to catch him stealing.
After starter Ty Lundeen retired Rogers’ first two batters of the second, consecutive singles set the stage for a slow roller to short that Ethan Biehn threw low trying to make the putout to first. The errant throw allowed the Royals’ lead runner to come home and put the visitors up 1-0.
More errors and some small ball worked to put the Royals ahead by two in the second. Gordon’s bunt was thrown away by Lundeen as he tried to retire him at first, and a wayward pickoff try from Loewe to first baseman Cam Justice on the next at bat gave Gordon second base. A sacrifice bunt and sacrifice fly were enough to bring him home for another unearned tally.
Gordon continued to lock up the Lumberjacks on the mound as well, surrendering just a single to Loewe during his three-inning stint of pitching. The senior concluded his start by inducing a double play groundout from Justice that took away Brodina at second.
Bemidji continued to trail 2-0 entering the sixth inning with just two hits on the board–both thanks to Loewe–and no success against new Royals pitcher Riane Ritter. The situation worsened when Rogers loaded the bases with nobody out, but the Jacks pulled off a massive double play when Landon Hanson corralled a fly ball into right field, then barely threw out a runner coming home from third base on a tag by Loewe.
Lundeen retired the next batter to set the stage for an important home half of the inning. Both he and Biehn drew walks with two outs to bring Ben Corradi to the plate, and he promptly delivered an RBI single up the middle that scored Lundeen’s courtesy runner Owen Frazer from second.
But Bemidji could do no further damage, leaving the tying run stranded at second. Lundeen rounded off his complete game on the mound with a fifth strikeout of the evening–one that Loewe finished with a tough throw to first after a swing on a pitch in the dirt.
The Jacks’ last chance at the plate came with no threat in the seventh, as Ritter retired the minimum to keep the Royals in the winners’ bracket.
Lundeen took the hard luck loss on the mound, surrendering two unearned runs on six hits with just one walk and five strikeouts. Loewe and Corradi combined to account for Bemidji’s only three hits, as the Jacks were held to their lowest offensive output of the season by three runs.
The loss was the Lumberjacks’ first in seven home games this season.
Bemidji drops to 16-6 overall and now faces a gauntlet of must-win games that starts with an elimination quarterfinal on Tuesday against #3 St. Michael-Albertville at the Cold Spring Baseball Park. Gametime is scheduled for 4:30pm, with pregame at approximately 4:15 on The BUN Sportsradio 104.5 and Lumberjacks1 online. The winner will play again that evening at 7pm against the winner of an elimination game between #9 Brainerd and #2 Elk River earlier in the day.
Section 8AAAA Results
Quarterfinal: #6 Sartell 2-1 #2 Elk River
Elimination First Round: #9 Brainerd 6-0 #4 Moorhead
Elimination First Round: #3 St. Michael-Albertville 14-7 #7 St. Cloud