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PREP BASEBALL: Norman County beats Bagley 8-4

BEMIDJI — Ryan Olson came up big twice on the mound here Thursday.

The Norman County pitcher helped keep the Wildcats’ season alive with a save and a win in the loser-out round of the Minnesota Section 8A high school baseball tournament.

Norman County beat Bagley 8-4 in eight innings in a loser-out game, with Olson getting a save. Then he threw a complete game 1-hitter as the Wildcats beat Red Lake County 9-2, handing the Rebels their first loss in the tournament.

Norman County (22-4) and Red Lake County (19-5) meet at 2 p.m. today in the championship game of the section tournament, with the winner advancing to next week’s state tournament.

“Ryan did a tremendous job closing the first game, then he had a great outing in the second game,’’ Norman County coach Mike Gullingsrud said.

Bagley was down 4-3 in the bottom of the seventh inning, but the Flyers manufactured a two-out rally to force extra innings.

That momentum didn’t last — Norman County scored four times in the top of the eighth — but Bagley kept swinging until the last out. Bagley loaded the bases with nobody out, but Olson came on in relief and pitched out of the jam without allowing a run.

Then Olson struck out nine, going the distance against RLC. The Rebels’ lone hit was Bailey Schmitz’ run-scoring single.

“Ryan throws as hard as anybody on our team,’’ Gullingsrud said. “And he’ll work in an effective slider. He gets a lot of outs – his ERA (earned run average) is below one a game.’’

The Wildcats jumped out to a 2-0 lead against RLC with two runs in the first, on Auskin Merkens’ run-scoring double and an RBI single by Blake Fetting.

“That first inning was big,’’ Gullingsrud said. “We gave up a lead in the seventh against Bagley. We recovered quickly, then got the early jump against Red Lake County Central. That got us momentum.’’

Norman County finished with 12 hits against RLC – three by Olson and two each by Dylan Wilkens, J.D. Kappes, Austin Merkens and Fetting.

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