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Detroit Lakes VFW opens district meet with loss to Bemidji

Bemidji's Drew Peterson slides underneath a tag by Detroit Lakes catcher Tyler Gebhart in the second inning in the VFW District Tournament on Friday morning. Pioneer Photo/Monte Draper/ Forum Communications Co.

The Bemidji VFW baseball team commenced play in its district tournament Friday with a 6-0 win over Detroit Lakes.

Entering the game as the top seed in the tournament, Bemidji was given a first-round bye and played the winner of the game between the fourth and fifth seeds.

Fifth-seeded Detroit Lakes pulled off an upset Thursday night, defeating fourth-seeded Fergus Falls 10-9 and advancing to Friday's game against Bemidji.

Thief River Falls also upset East Grand Forks 7-0.

The first runs of Friday's game came with two outs in the bottom of the second inning as Bemidji touched the plate three times against Tyler Gebhart.

Drew Peterson started the barrage with a single and advanced to second on Mitch Buckanaga's single.

An error by shortstop Austin Eiter on a ball hit by Adam Lewis allowed Peterson to score the first run.

With Parker Lucas running for Buckanaga on third, and Lewis on second, a wild pitch by Gebhart followed by an errant throw from catcher Max Boyd plated two as Bemidji finished the second inning with a 3-0 lead.

It was a tough day for baserunners as Boyd and Buckanaga each threw out an attempted stealer. Pitcher Gebhart also had one pickoff.

The scoreboard wasn't threatened again until the top of the fifth inning as Detroit Lakes took advantage of an error by Bemidji that allowed Riley Soberg to reach first.

Boyd followed Soberg with a single, but Soberg was erased on a fielder's choice that put Boyd on second and Gebhart on first.

With a single by leadoff hitter Nick Groth the bases were loaded with only one out. Detroit Lakes looked to be in a good position for its first run of the game.

Shortstop Connor McNallan said otherwise as he initiated a slick double play off a hard ground ball up the middle by Eiter. First baseman Cody Labernick finished the double play with a quick scoop and stretch to end the inning.

Bemidji made the most of the bottom of the inning after a Nick Hovila single and subsequent pickoff. With two outs Billy Baumgartner came to the plate and smacked a double that was followed by a walk to McNallan.

Designated hitter Devin Barrett put a single into the outfield to plate Baumgartner and Labernick did likewise with McNallan.

Bemidji added a little insurance in the bottom of the sixth after an error put Hovila on first and a steal put him on second.

A single by Mark Fenner advanced Hovila to third and a bloop single to left by Baumgartner capped the inning with Hovila scoring, leaving the scoreboard reading 6-0 heading into the seventh.

Detroit Lakes was determined to not be blanked starting off the seventh inning and with two outs before pitcher Gebhart singled and advanced to second on a balk by Bemidji pitcher Collin Rutledge.

A subsequent walk for Groth and walk for Eiter left the bases juiced with two outs and the game on the line for Detroit Lakes.

But Bemidji would prevail as Rutledge went the distance on the mound and a fly out by A.J. Matter capped the five-hit shutout.

The battery of Rutledge and Buckanaga finished the game with an even five strikeouts and five walks.

Fenner paced the offense with three hits while Baumgartner and Buckanaga both contributed two.

Baumgartner's double was the only extra base hit of the game.

Bemidji will resume district play 3 p.m. today at the BSU diamond against the winner of last night's game between Thief River Falls and Perham.

Detroit Lakes 000 000 0 - 0 5 5

Bemidji VFW 030 021 x - 6 11 1

Gebhart and Boyd. K-1, BB-1

Rutledge (4-2) and Buckanaga. K-5, BB-5