BEMIDJI -- Five section titles in seven years.
Not many high school athletic programs in Minnesota can make that claim in addition to the Brainerd Warriors baseball team.
Brainerd dismantled the Bemidji Lumberjacks 15-1 and 17-3 in six innings to capture the Section 8, Class 3A championship Wednesday at Bemidji State University.
The Warriors (22-5) were virtually flawless in all aspects of the game while qualifying for their fifth state tournament since 1994. In the doubleheader Brainerd battered Lumberjacks pitchers for 37 hits, including five doubles and three home runs. In 13 innings Warriors pitchers combined to walk just one, strike out 14 and give up only eight hits. In the field Brainerd didn't commit an error.
Warriors coach Lowell Scearcy said it has been a delight for he and assistant Keith Peterson to coach this group and not just because of its win-loss record.
"This is a group of kids that shows up every day and works hard in practice," Scearcy said. "Our practices are pretty businesslike for a bunch of high school kids. There's not much horseplay. They just go about their business. They know what they're supposed to do. From that standpoint Keith and I have had an enjoyable year with kids who are serious about playing."
Warriors 17, Bemidji 3
Eric Bolt pitched five solid innings and the Warriors clinched the title with an 11-run sixth. He struck out five, walked just one and permitted only four hits. Kevin Ericson finished, yielding only a solo home run to Matt Dahle.
Bolt threw 72 pitches, 50 for strikes. He threw the first pitch for a strike to 16 of 22 Lumberjacks.
"It was pretty much my fastball today," Bolt said of his best pitch. "I was just trying to throw strikes, make them hit the ball and get the outs."
The Warriors bashed two Bemidji pitchers for 18 hits, including a long 3-run homer to left-center by Mike Zauhar in the third and a 2-run shot to right by Kevin Ericson in the sixth.
The home run was the first varsity hit for Zauhar, a sophomore, who was 3-for-4 with two runs and four RBI.
"I just wanted to make contact with it," Zauhar said. "I struck out at the end of the first game and he struck me out the first time (in the second game). I got smart. This time I hit the first pitch I liked instead of getting behind in the count."
Nathan Thomas was 3-for-5 with two RBI and Kyle Berg, Ericson, Ty Adams and Rob Lien each had two hits for Brainerd.
Warriors 15, Bemidji 1
Matt Yde pitched a masterpiece and the Warriors scored seven times in the seventh. The senior right-hander went the distance, striking out nine, walking none and giving up just three hits. Bemidji's only run was unearned.
Yde threw 97 pitches, 65 for strikes. He threw the first pitch for a strike 18 of 26 times.
"I was about as pumped up as you can get in a season," said Yde, who improved to 8-0. "My fastball was working the best of all. Once I got my changeup down that was working good. My curveball was working late.
"I tried to stick with the fastball. I was getting good location with it. They couldn't hit it as well."
Warriors left fielder Chris Macy continued to wear out opposing pitchers. In the first game he was 4-for-4 with a run and three RBI. He was 1-for-1 in the second game with a sacrifice fly and two walks. In seven postseason games Macy is 15-for-25 (.600). In the second game he also had two stolen bases to go along with his hitting display.
"My mom made me steak and eggs," Macy said of his pregame meal and of his postseason success. "I have to give partial credit to her."
Berg, Ericson, Nick Weiland and Lien added two hits apiece for Brainerd.
Brainerd 032 210 7 -- 15 19 0
Bemidji 100 000 0 --1 3 3
Brainerd -- Matt Yde and Kyle Berg; Bemidji -- Eddie Johnson, William Naylor (4), Andy Bronczyk (7) and Rob Hiltz. WP -- Yde (8-0). LP -- Johnson.
2b -- Brd, Nathan Thomas, Billy Tadych. HR -- Brd, Berg. Sac -- Brd, Ty Adams; Bem, Scott Fogelson. RBI -- Brd, Berg, Matt Means, Chris Macy 2, Tadych, Nick Weiland, Rob Lien 2, Tim Siekas, Bob Brown 2.
Brainerd 114 00(11) --17 18 0
Bemidji 001 011 --3 5 3
Brainerd -- Eric Bolt, Kevin Ericson (6) and Berg; Bemidji -- Fogelson, Paul Fenner (6) and Hiltz. WP -- Bolt (3-1). LP -- Fogelson.
2B -- Brd, Berg, Weiland, Lien; Bem, Justin Skipton. HR -- Brd, Ericson, Mike Zauhar; Bem, Matt Dahle. Sac --Brd, Macy, Siekas; Bem, Hiltz, Mitch Webb. RBI --Brd, Berg 2, Thomas 2, Ericson 2, Macy, Adams, Lien, Zauhar 4, Siekas; Bem, Josh Hovde, Fogelson, Dahle. Records -- Brd 22-5. Next game -- Brainerd vs. Elk River 1 p.m. June 15 in Class 3A state tournament at Siebert Field, Minneapolis.
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