The Luverne Redbirds saw the future, and they’re OK with it.
They knew that, in their quest for a state amateur baseball tournament berth, their biggest series would be the Region 13C series against Jackson. Win that, and even if they lose in the Final Four with several players missing because of the state American Legion tournament in Ely, they still had a chance.
The amateur postseason is a layered affair, with second-chances at the tail end. With some of their Legion players gone at Ely last weekend -- including coach Skyler Wenninger, who is one of the Redbirds’ best players -- the Redbirds were beaten by Hadley in the Final Four. But they still have a chance to gain state in a three-game series beginning against the Milroy Irish tonight (7:30 p.m.) in Milroy.
“We’ll have everybody now for the rest of the way,” said Redbirds manager Brooks Maurer on Tuesday.
Two Final Four teams are in -- Hadley and Fairmont. They earned their berths last weekend.
Hadley defeated Luverne 10-5 on Saturday, while Fairmont took a series-deciding third game 4-2 on Sunday.
The two teams will now play another series to determine the first and second seed. Game 1 is Wednesday at Fairmont, with Game 2 Saturday in Hadley. A third game, if necessary, is back at Fairmont on Sunday.
Milroy and Luverne square off to see which squad will take the third and final spot in the state tournament. After tonight’s game, the second game will be Friday in Luverne. If Game 3 is necessary, it will be Sunday in Milroy.
While the Buttermakers finished Luverne in two games, the Martins needed three games to take the Final Four series from the Irish.
Milroy won the second game on Friday night by a 10-4 victory behind a strong pitching performance from Cody Mather.
However, the Martins took the third game on Sunday, 4-2. Windom draftee Kobe Lovell threw the first five and two-thirds innings to earn the victory.
In Hadley, a Phil Paquette home run gave the Redbirds a 3-0 lead early Saturday. However, the Buttermakers scored nine runs in the fifth inning and didn’t look back.
Making state felt good, said Hadley manager Myron Bennett.
"Our season kind of got off to a slow start. We started off without a couple of guys and one of our best starting pitchers was hurt. It's kind of a rewarding deal (qualifying for state) the way it started," he said.
What's more, Bennett added, "All six of our (playoff) wins have been come-from-behind."
Maurer said the Luverne pitching staff should be fresh in the series against Milroy, and Brandan Alfson, a draftee from Pipestone, is expected to start the opener.