Blackduck wins subsection baseball title, advances to final four
Blackduck and Cass Lake-Bena will represent the East Sub-Section 8A in the section’s final four tournament Tuesday at Northland Community College in Thief River Falls.
Thursday night at Bemidji State University Blackduck exorcised its BSU demons by capturing the East title with a 5-2 victory over CL-B. The win gave the Drakes the East’s top seed and they will face the West runner-up 3:30 p.m. Tuesday.
The Panthers, who had their 14-game winning streak snapped, will be the East’s second seed and will play the West champion at 1 p.m.
Those winners will square off June 9 for the title.
In Thursday’s East semifinals top-seeded Blackduck defeated No. 4 Fosston 5-3 while second-ranked Cass Lake-Bena nipped No. 3 Nevis 4-2.
“During my years of coaching at Blackduck we have never won a game at BSU,” said Drakes coach Rick Olhava whose team spent a month of the season rated the top Class A team in Minnesota and finished the campaign in the top-five.
“It’s not a fluke that we are here (sub-section champions) but I think the guys needed two games like these to prove to themselves that they belong.
“We’ve been working on gaining confidence and now I think we have it,” the coach continued. “Good teams become great when they are confident and great teams become legendary. We want to become one of those legendary teams and take Blackduck to the state tournament for the first time in its history.”
CL-B used single runs in the first and third frames to take a 2-0 lead but the Drakes drew even with two in their half of the third on Brandon Beck’s double, a hit batter and Dylan Weisert’s 2-run single.
Mike Dexter, who was the winning pitcher, helped his cause by starting the decisive sixth inning with a single up the middle. After a walk to Shane Fenske, Lucas Krabbenhoft dropped a perfect bunt. The CL-B defense tried for the force at third but the throw was late and the bases were loaded.
Aaron Nissen followed with a grounder to the right side and the ball found a gap between the defender’s legs and two runs scored. Later in the inning Trey Volk plated an insurance run with a fielder’s choice ground ball.
“The guys have worked hard all year and this title is overdue,” Olhava said.
In Thursday’s opener Blackduck trailed Fosston 3-0 heading into the bottom of the fourth in but the Drakes erupted for five runs in the home half of the frame and made the 5-3 lead stand.
Volk started the rally with a single and another single by Cody Bergquist and an error on Weisert’s grounder loaded the bases.
Michael Dexter plated the first run with a single and, after Fenske forced in another by coaxing a walk, Lucas Krabbenhoft drilled a 3-run double.
Blackduck errors in the first and third innings helped Fosston score single runs and the Greyhounds upped their advantage to 3-0 in the fourth by combining two singles and a double.
Once the Drakes had the lead, however, Bergquist, who went the distance on the mound, and the defense were able to maintain it.
Bergquist finished with six strikeouts and two walks.
Thursday’s other semifinal was knotted at 2-2 until the bottom of the sixth when the Panthers scored two runs.
The winning rally began when Jordan Collins singled and two outs later Jake Ellis doubled him to third and Caleb Fisher plated both runners with a bloop double to short right.
The teams traded single runs in the first inning. Nevis used a hit batter and Garret Edelman’s double to plate its run while the Panthers responded with Chad Wittner’s double and Fisher’s single.
CL-B took a 2-1 lead in the second when Fisher delivered another RBI single but the Tigers answered in the fifth as Austin Becker singled and eventually scored on an error.
That run tied the game but Cass Lake-Bena combined three hits for the winning runs in the sixth.
Sub-Section 8A East
Fosston 101 100 0 – 3 6 1
Blackduck 000 500 x – 5 5 3
Johnson (L) and Schmidt. K-3, BB-3
Bergquist (W) and Dexter. K-6, BB-2
Nevis 100 010 0 – 2 2 3
CL-B 110 002 x – 4 7 4
Becker (L) and Edelman. K-7, BB-3
Fisher (W) and Humphrey. K-3, Bb-2
CL-B 101 000 0 – 2 4 2
Blackduck 002 003 x – 5 5 2
Humphery (L) and Fisher
Dexter (W) and Fenkse