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Baseball: Bemidji stays hot to hand Detroit Lakes its first loss of the season

Recap from Detroit Lakes baseball at Bemidji.

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Bradley Swiers (4) taps second base for an out in the second inning against Bemidji on Thursday, May 5, 2022, at the BSU baseball field.
Madelyn Haasken / Bemidji Pioner
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BEMIDJI -- Will Zellman isn’t opposed to second chances.

As he trudged to first base during the fifth inning, frustrated by his lazy pop-up in foul territory, the Bemidji High School baseball junior unexpectedly received new life when the ball squirted out of Kyler Johnston’s glove and hit the ground.

One pitch later: “Yeah,” Zellman said, “that one felt good.”

Zellman belted a three-run home run over the tall wall in left field, putting the finishing touch on Thursday’s 9-1 win over Detroit Lakes at the BSU baseball field.

“That second pitch, it was like a new life,” Zellman said. “At the start of the year, I’ve been in a slump. The last two games now, I’ve kind of started to come out and it’s felt really good.”

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Zellman’s blast was anything but an outlier in the lineup. The Lumberjack bats were active all afternoon, including all nine runs between the third and fifth innings. Ben Corradi hounded DL pitching with two-RBI doubles in the third and fifth frames, while John Cleven had an RBI knock of his own in the third.

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Hunter Korth (15) throws a pitch in the fifth inning against Bemidji on Thursday, May 5, 2022, at the BSU baseball field.
Madelyn Haasken / Bemidji Pioner

“One through nine, everybody is hitting and playing well,” BHS head coach Mike Fogelson said. “You want to name them all, right? They’re all doing a great job, and it’s fun when everyone in the lineup is giving you a good at-bat.”

The bottom of Bemidji’s order got the party started in the third frame. Cleven opened the scoring with an RBI single up the middle, and once the lineup turned over, Corradi clubbed his first double to the gap for a 3-0 lead.

In the fourth, Zellman manufactured another run by reaching base on a two-out hit by pitch, stealing second, then scoring on an error for a 4-0 cushion.

“When the dugout is energetic, the bats start to break out. It’s just really fun,” Zellman said. “When the team’s rolling, everyone’s happy and it’s a good environment.”

Detroit Lakes (5-1) threatened in the fifth inning, scoring on Jordan Tucker’s RBI single and gearing up for more with the bases loaded. But BHS shortstop Ethan Biehn produced perhaps the biggest play of the game -- ranging to his right for a grounder deep in the hole and starting a smooth 6-4-3 double play to end the rally.

The Jacks (6-1) then landed the decisive blow in the bottom of the fifth, first with Corradi’s two-bagger and then with Zellman’s screamer.

“You’ve got to take advantage of mistakes,” Fogelson said of Zellman’s second chance. “Obviously they would love to have that play back and catch that ball, but Will got back in there, reset and hit a home run. That’s fun. It’s a cool moment for him, and it’s a fun moment for our team to extend that lead.”

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The homer was the first of Zellman’s varsity career and punctuated his 2-for-2 day with a double, three runs scored and three RBIs.

His performance paired nicely with Dan Clusiau, who tossed four scoreless innings on the bump and kept the Lakers guessing with five strikeouts.

“(Clusiau) was in charge on the mound,” Fogelson said. “He’s on a pitch count right now, but by the end of the year, if he’s pitching like that, he’s going to give us seven innings and we’re going to run away with that. Dan looked really good today, and it was fun to see him throw strikes.”

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Detroit Lakes' Jacob Thomas (11) hits a single in the fourth inning against Bemidji on Thursday, May 5, 2022, at the BSU baseball field.
Madelyn Haasken / Bemidji Pioner

Bemidji 9, Detroit Lakes 1

DL 000 010 0 -- 1-7-1

BHS 003 150 X -- 9-8-3

WP: Clusiau (4 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 3 K)

LP: Jackson (4.2 IP, 8 H, 9 R, 8 ER, 1 BB, 2 K)

Micah Friez is the sports editor at the Bemidji Pioneer. A native of East Grand Forks, Minn., he joined the Pioneer in 2015 and is a 2018 graduate of Bemidji State University with a degree in Creative and Professional Writing. Follow him on Twitter at @micahfriez for Lumberjack and Beaver updates.
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