Amateur baseball: Redbirds rested and ready for state
LUVERNE — The Luverne Redbirds amateur baseball team has been waiting … and waiting … for their first appearance this year in the state Class C tournament.
It has been two weeks since the Redbirds last played a game.
That’s what can happen when you win a Region 13C tournament. You get a state tournament bye. And you wait.
The patient Redbirds will finally get on the field Friday against the Midway Snurdbirds, who defeated Upsala 4-1 in the first round of the state tourney on Aug. 17. Manager James Fisher says his Gopher League team is more than ready for the battle of the birds.
“We’re pretty confident in our team right now. Thinking maybe it could be the year for us,” he said.
One of the reasons Fisher can feel confident is that he’s sending righthander Brian Beuning out to start the Midway game. Beuning, who has only been used in relief until now, has been saved, Fisher said, for just the right time.
This is it. Beuning, a state trooper and native of Sauk Centre, won an American Association championship with Winnipeg, Canada, last year and brings a dominant perspective to the Minnesota amateur ranks.
“He’s a shutdown guy. He’s got four or five pitches and tons of movement,” said Fisher. “He’s as tough as you get in the state tournament. We’re going to ride him as long as we can.”
Midway defeated Upsala in the first round behind a strong pitching performance by Pelican Rapids draftee Jan-Eric Lindberg, who allowed only three hits over eight innings. Fisher watched the game, and although he’s wary of the Snurdbirds’ power (they’ve hit about 30 home runs this year as a team), he’s also a firm believer in the Redbirds.
Luverne’s pitching and defense have carried them far, especially since the playoff season began.
Sure, Fisher is just a little bit concerned that his team will need to shake off some rust for Friday’s game, set for 7:30 p.m. in Delano, but he has no qualms about turning the game over to Beuning.
“As long as we make the plays behind him,” Fisher said, “we’ll be OK.”