The local U-14 baseball squad from Barnum/ Moose Lake/ Willow River (BMW) finished 15-4 in Quad Cities league play, ending the season with a 9-2 loss in the championship game to Esko. This was the second time BMW and Esko met forces in a championship game this summer. One of the most exciting weekends was a late July Cloquet tournament. After beating Virginia 5-4 and Thief River Falls 14-2 and then tying Wayzata 6-6 in pool play games, BMW made the final four. In the semi-final game they beat the NW Wisconsin War Eagles 9-6 to set up a bout with Esko in the championship game. After BMW took a 5-2 lead in the fifth, led by a Tyler Juhl 2 run double and Bryce Ferguson’s triple, the Eskomos rallied back with 3 in the bottom of the 5th to tie the game. Then both team’s pitchers put a line of zeros on the scoreboard until the game reached the 11th inning. There were multiple situations where each team had a runner on third with less than 2 outs, but couldn’t push the run across. Unfortunately for the local nine that changed in the bottom of the 11th when Esko rallied and scored on a bases loaded walk to win 6-5.

The team was 24-24-1 overall, finding good competition by traveling around the state. Some other season highlights included a trip to Ely, and their beautiful old fashion stadium, where BMW split, losing 2-1 in 9 innings and then winning 12-0; competing in 3 games against top state teams in a nice Brainerd ballpark; beating Princeton 13-4; and playing 2 games at Wade Stadium in Duluth. In league playoffs the #2 seed BMW squad opened with a 12-2 victory over Duluth Blue with Eli Gilbertson hitting an inside-the-park homer and PJ Frisch and Joey Steen collecting 2 hits apiece. In the league semi-final playoff game behind Tyler Juhl’s 6 shutout innings and Brody Vernon’s flawless inning in relief, the Beamers eliminated Duluth East with a 5-0 victory. The game was tied 0-0 in the fifth when rain hit and suspended the game until it could be made up 5 days later. A 5 run 6th highlighted by Reese Bode, Juhl, and Steen doubles and a Layne Radzak single broke the scoreless tie. 

There were many good individual performances on the season. Leadoff man Eli Gilbertson led the team in at bats (156), runs (64), hits (62), and stolen bases (35), as he hit .397 for the season and played a brilliant 2nd base along with throwing out multiple runners attempting to pilfer a base when he was behind the dish. Reese Bode led the squad in doubles (19), triples (8), home runs (2), RBI’s (47), average (.403), slugging (.698), and OPS (1.212) and an OBP of .514 helped him score 63 runs and steal 32 bases while making many demanding plays at shortstop. Brady Dahl hit .385 with 22 steals and led the team in OBP (.525) while playing steady in the middle infield. Tyler Juhl scored 39 runs, stole 23 bases, and hit .396, and was second on the team in doubles (10), RBI’s (33), OBP (.515), SLG (.528), OPS (1.043) while playing an excellent third base in the field.

Other top hitters were 1st baseman Joey Steen (.376 avg, 5 doubles), centerfielder Landen Oetterer (.360 avg, 27 RBI, 21 SB’s), leftfielder Bryce Ferguson (.297 avg, 36 runs, 4 triples, 30 RBI, 20 stolen bases), and catcher/ first baseman PJ Frisch (.225 avg, 26 RBI). As a team, the defense did a nice job with some sparkling catches and turning 11 ground ball double plays.

Brody Vernon was the workhorse pitcher, throwing 55 innings over 20 games with a 29/19 K/BB ratio, earning 5 wins and 3 saves, all with a 3.59 ERA. Tyler Juhl (47K/ 30B in 47 innings, 5.10 ERA), Joey Steen (23K/15BB in 37 innings, 4.50 ERA), Brady Dahl (6.54 ERA in 26 innings), and Elliott Wasche (7.76 ERA in 15 innings) all captured 3 wins. Bryce Ferguson was 2-0 with a 5.06 ERA in 18 innings. Reese Bode had 2 saves and 2 holds with 29K/24 BB’s, 6.37 ERA in 30 innings. Eli Gilbertson had 32K/38BB’s in 25 innings. Owen Peterson threw 18 solid innings with a 6.87 ERA and PJ Frisch 10 innings with a 6.78 ERA. In all, 13 players spent time on the mound. Players on the team hailed from 5 different schools: Barnum, Moose Lake, Willow River, Carlton, and Cromwell.

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