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Norman County wins at section baseball tourney

Norman County’s Michael Kolness steals second base as Blackduck’s Matthew Patch fields the throw on Tuesday. Monte Draper / Forum News Service

BEMIDJI, Minn. – For the first time since 2011, there will be a new champion in Minnesota Class 1A, Section 8 baseball.

Norman County scored a pair of first-inning runs off Blackduck’s Jake Krabbenhoft then relied on the pitching of Lucas Lindell to do the rest, as the Wildcats unseated the two-time defending section champions 2-1 Tuesday afternoon at the Bemidji State baseball diamond.

A leadoff walk from JD Kappes, an RBI triple from Austin Merkens and a run-scoring single from Blake Fetting was all that Lindell and the Wildcats would need.

“Lucas was really good today,” Norman County coach Mike Gullingsrud said. “He’s real crafty. He threw lots of off-speed, as you see. He won’t throw it by you, but he was good. He made the pitches he had to make.”

The Norman County sophomore didn’t have a lot of speed on his pitches, but fooled the Drakes with a nasty breaking ball; he struck out 10 batters on eight hits.

Although Blackduck outhit Norman County 8 to 3, the Drakes’ lone run came via a solo home run by designated hitter Jake Peterson in the top of the second.

“We just didn’t get the one big break,” Blackduck head coach Dwight Kalvig said. “That’s kinda been the story of our whole tournament. For whatever reason getting that clutch key hit has been an issue we’ve been fighting that year. Against quality teams we just haven’t been able to get that one extra hit to bust that game open.”

The Drakes had numerous chances to plate more runs but each time Lindell pitched himself out of the jam.

B    010    000    0–1    8    2

NC    200    000    x–2    3    1

Krabbenhoft and Bales. Lindell, Fetting (7) and Kappes.  W–Lindell. L–Krabbenhoft.