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Redbirds win fourth straight, clinch Region 13C championship

LUVERNE -- Striking early with four first-inning runs and later plating a trio of runs in the seventh to break a 4-4 tie Saturday night, the Luverne Redbirds defeated Fox Lake, 7-4, in the Region 13C championship game at Redbird Field.

Both teams play at the state tournament in Norwood next Sunday night. Fox Lake plays the Region 1 champion at 5 p.m., while Luverne plays the Region 1 runner-up at 7:30 p.m.

The teams also receive an additional draft pick for the state tournament. With the first selection, Luverne took Pipestone's Dan Morrison -- joining his A's teammates Matt Oye and Kent Woelber on the Redbirds' roster.

Fox Lake drafted Windom's Kirby Johnson, who will join his brother Kody Johnson and Fairmont's Scott Chirpich as the draftees for the Foxes.

Saturday's game started with the teams combining for eight runs (four each) in the first two innings, and it looked like it might be a slugfest. However, starting pitchers Adam Kurtz (Luverne) and Kane Malo (Fox Lake) found their grooves and the game remained tied at 4-4 entering the bottom of the seventh.

Andrew DeBoer led off the frame by drawing a five-pitch walk and advanced to second on Jared Pick's sacrifice bunt. Tony Sandbulte then grounded out to second, allowing DeBoer to go to third with two outs.

Jake Studer came through with a clutch hit, as he drilled a first-pitch fastball into right field for a single -- scoring DeBoer and giving the Redbirds a 5-4 edge.

Studer went to second on a wild pitch before Oye reached on an error. With runners at the corners, Jeff Sehr singled to left to bring in Studer. However, the ball went through the leftfielder's legs, allowing Oye to score, as well.

With a 7-4 lead, Luverne relieved Kurtz with DeBoer. After hurling a perfect eighth, DeBoer worked around a one-out single by Jon Traetow in the ninth to close the door and secure the 7-4 victory.

Luverne plated four runs in the bottom of the first, as a pair of Fox Lake errors aided the Redbirds to begin the game.

Studer walked with one out, and Oye followed with a single to right. Sehr then singled to left, and an error on the leftfielder allowed Studer to score the game's first run.

After James Fisher grounded out to third, a passed ball permitted Oye to score and Sehr to go to third for a 2-0 Redbird lead.

Tyler Reisch was hit by a pitch and stole second before Rob Fodness reached on an infield single up the middle. Sehr scored, and so did Reisch, as the second baseman bobbled the ball to give Luverne a 4-0 bulge.

However, Fox Lake tied the game with four runs of its own in the second. Grant Madison had an RBI single, Malo was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded, and Grant Carlson stroked a two-run single to account for the Foxes' runs.

Kurtz, though, kept the Foxes from scoring for the next five innings, as the Redbirds played solid defense behind him. In his seven innings of work, Kurtz allowed seven hits and three walks, but hit seven Foxes with pitches, including Malo three times.

Malo hurled a complete game for Fox Lake, allowing seven hits and three earned runs.

Sehr and Oye each had two hits for Luverne, while Fisher had a double to go with the RBI singles by Fodness and Studer.

Madison and Joel Erdman had two singles for Fox Lake, while Miah Fitzgerald doubled, and Traetow, Carlson and Dustin Zellmer each singled.


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