LUMBERJACK THROWBACK: Bemidji Baseball’s Home Run Derby Inning At Detroit Lakes (5-23-17)

On Tuesdays and Thursdays, KBUN Sportsradio presents a “Lumberjack Throwback”, as we recall a memorable Bemidji High School game from recent years through archived highlights and interviews. Today’s throwback recalls a barrage of big swings provided by Bemidji baseball in ONE inning on a visit to Detroit Lakes…

The Lumberjacks entered their May 23, 2017 doubleheader at Detroit Lakes’ Washington Park with a terrific 14-3 record and a potent offense leading the charge. Leadoff batters Hunter Olson and Matt Fitzgerald brought an ability to get on base frequently and set the stage for a powerful heart of the order.

Within the center of the lineup was a pair of hard-hitting seniors in future Bemidji State player Caleb Carlson and Jared Young, who were having a great finish to their time playing for BHS. Joining them was dynamite junior Otto Grimm, a future Mr. Baseball finalist his senior year and Golden Gopher who was leading the team in home runs, RBI, runs, stolen bases, on-base percentage, and slugging. (Given Grimm’s recent opportunities in his redshirt freshman season with the University of Minnesota, it is fitting that this is the game we reflect on today.)

Pitching was very strong as well, with Carlson and Young both capable of making a quality start alongside senior and curveball artist George Loxtercamp. Grimm was a frequent contributor out of the bullpen, often in save situations where his flame-throwing ability with the fastball could be utilized.

The Jacks had just completed their annual Des Sagedahl Wood Bat Classic with a 3-1 weekend performance and now had the chance to prepare for the Section 8AAA playoffs by seeing a fellow section opponent in DL. Favorable field conditions–a short distance to the fence and good weather–set the stage for an incredible first inning in game one.

Bradie Weidemann’s single and a full-count walk from Fitzgerald put Grimm at the plate with an early opportunity to get the Lumberjacks on the board. With the count full, the junior powered a deep shot to center field.

Carlson reached on a single but was retired on a fielder’s choice when Young batted next in the fifth spot. A flyout two batters later left two runners on base with two outs, but Bemidji began a run of six straight batters reaching base with consecutive walks. The second of those from Brady Rutledge in the ninth spot in the order brought another run in, and Weidemann followed it up with yet another bases-loaded walk to chase DL starter Eli Brooks from the game.

Fitzgerald then poked a two-run single through on a 1-2 count to pile two more runs onto the lead. With runners now at the corners, Grimm returned to the batter’s box and once again launched a three-run shot that was accompanied by a classic line from broadcaster Tom Lucas.

Grimm’s incredible two-homer, six-RBI inning had now extended the lead to 10-0, but Bemidji was not done yet. Caleb Carlson stood in with the bases empty and continued the two-out rally with a yet another deep drive.

A groundout to third from Young finally ended the inning, but not before the Lumberjacks had scored a staggering 11 runs in the inning and sent 14 batters to the plate. The scorebook was almost beyond belief.

The Lakers scored single runs in the bottom of the first and second innings to get on the board while Bemidji had a quiet pair of innings in the second and third. Grimm changed that in the fourth, driving two more runs home with a double to take his astonishing RBI total in the game to even gaudier heights.

Two further runs in the fifth and a shutdown bottom half of the inning secured a 15-2 victory in just five innings for the Jacks in the first game of the doubleheader. Every one of Bemidji’s starters reached base at least once, courtesy of 12 hits and eight walks, while eight of the nine starters also scored at least one run. Grimm was an eye-popping 3-4 with two home runs, two runs scored, two stolen bases, and eight RBI. Carlson was 2-4 with his own home run, Weidemann went 2-3 batting leadoff with three runs scored, and Fitzgerald, Young, Jonah Muller, and Jacob Amble all had two runs scored.

Young also got the start on the mound, breezing through the five innings with two runs allowed–one earned–on four hits with two walks and eight strikeouts.

Bemidji followed up the victory in the first game with a 17-4 five-inning rout in the second, highlighted by a staggering 13-run third inning that blew open a 2-1 game. The heart of the order was again influential, with Grimm going 4-4 with two doubles, a walk, two RBI, three runs scored, and two stolen bases, Carlson finishing 2-4 with two runs scored and a stolen base, and Young also hitting 2-4 with a pair of two-run doubles and three runs scored.

The Lumberjacks finished an excellent season 19-6 overall, but came up short of winning the Section 8AAA title. They were defeated 15-6 in the championship by a hot-hitting Alexandria team that Bemidji would have needed to win against twice to take the title after the Cardinals won 18-5 in five innings in the winner’s bracket final.

The visit to Detroit Lakes, however, remained a tremendous highlight from an overall terrific season of baseball during the spring of 2017 for Bemidji.

COMING NEXT TUESDAY: Prelude to a championship.