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Amateur baseball: Maurer helps keep the Redbirds flying; Cubs lose to Mt. Lake, Jackson

The Luverne Redbirds' Brooks Maurer is a humble guy, but he's one of many Redbird players that help make the amateur baseball team a winner.

062721 N DG Worthington Cubs vs Mountain Lake Lakers S3.jpg
Mountain Lake Lakers Blake Spinks slides into second base as Worthington Cubs baseman Easton Sauerebrei follows a ground ball during a Sunday afternoon game at the Worthington Middles School. (Tim Middagh/The Globe)

Brooks Maurer grew up in a baseball hotbed, played some college ball, and at age 30 is still no slouch on the diamond.

But the manager of the Luverne Redbirds is nothing if not humble. He’s also a winner.

“I’m definitely not one of our best players,” he said. “When I play, it’s because we only have nine guys.”

That was the case on Sunday as Luverne faced a Gopher League doubleheader on the road. And Maurer made sure the red-hot Redbirds didn’t miss a beat.

Maurer pitched all eight innings as Luverne went extra frames to defeat Ruthton 2-1. Also on Sunday, veteran Codie Zeutenhorst pitched a seven-inning complete game as the Redbirds improved to 15-3 overall with a 15-4 victory over Tracy.

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Maurer is no stranger to the summer game. He played in his first amateur ballgame as a 13-year-old when his hometown Atwater Chuckers needed an extra player.

“I stuck the bat out and got a Texas-Leaguer over the first baseman my very first at-bat,” he chuckled. “But I think I struck out every other time in that game.”

Atwater is a town of about 1,000 in Kandiyohi County that’s known as the home of former big-leaguer Mike Kingery. Maurer is proud his roots; his mother is athletic director at the Atwater high school and his father is a retired teacher there.

But he isn’t boastful of his baseball past.

“There’s been a lot of players from there better than me,” Maurer laughed.

But on Sunday, the veteran righthander looked just fine on the mound in what was his first start of the year. He struck out eight, walked but three and allowed no earned runs and only four hits.

“I had no plans on pitching,” Maurer said. “But we had a couple of guys who couldn’t make it and we had to scrap together nine. It worked out, I guess.”

Zuetenhorst, a former star at Northwestern College in Orange City, Iowa, fanned six and allowed just two earned runs.

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The Redbirds, 13-1 in league play, also defeated Hadley 9-3 last week as Jake Haugen earned the pitching victory and Ethan Beyer had three hits.

Max Zwart and Danny Blankenship had three hits each for Hadley, while Derek Kluis and Jaden Deacon each had two safeties.

Luverne is 13-1 in league play tied with the Milroy Irish in the Gopher League standings.

“It’s been really fun,” said Maurer, who played collegiately at Southwest Minnesota State and is now a teacher and head girls softball coach at Luverne High. “We’ve had some young guys throwing some real good games and our lineup is pretty deep. When we’re on and we’re hitting we’re pretty tough.”

Leading the Redbirds’ offense is Phil Paquette.

“Phil always claims it’s going to be his last year but then he proceeds to hit five or six home runs and bat four-something,” Maurer laughed. “I hope he doesn’t give it up for a long time. He’s been tearing the cover off the ball lately.”

And there are others.

“Skyler Wenninger, man, even when he makes outs lately he’s been barreling balls up and hitting balls hard everywhere,” Maurer said. “He’s done really well. Jake Haugen has been hitting and pitching really well, too.”

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Though defending State C champion Fairmont is ineligible for postseason play and has forfeited its schedule, there figures to be heated competition in the next month or so for Region 13C’s three available state tournament berths.

“With Fairmont being out, it gives more teams some hope,” Maurer said. “It’s going to be a battle like always for those three spots.

“Our league from top to bottom has gotten a lot better in the last five or six years.”

Next Sunday, Luverne meets First Nite leader Windom in a battle of Region 13C powers.

In other Gopher and First Nite League action last week it was:

Worthington Cubs drop a pair

WORTHINGTON — The host Cubs lost 2-1 to Mountain Lake in extra innings and then dropped a 14-3 decision to Jackson on Sunday.

Against Mountain Lake, the Cubs’ Logan Huisman went the distance on the mound. Huisman and Tyler Linder each doubled, and Ethan Duffy knocked in the only Worthington run with a sacrifice fly.

In the loss to Jackson, Shawn Hurley pitched well in relief for the Cubs. Ryan Swanson had three hits, including a triple and an RBI. Hurley, Ryan Lee and Easton Sauerbrei each had hits.

Evan Olesen led the offensive attack for Jackson. The Bulls also defeated Heron Lake 5-4 on Wednesday as Nate Monson drove in the winning run with a suicide squeeze bunt.

Lakefield 8, Pipestone 4 (10 innings)

PIPESTONE — Phil Pronk pitched all 10 innings to lead Lakefield past Pipestone on Sunday.

Heron Lake alumni game a success

HERON LAKE — The current Lakers defeated the former Lakers 10-5 in an alumni game last weekend.

For the old-timers, Tim Spencer pitched a few innings and Steve Schubert had two hits. Harvey Kruger and Steve Dewall also had base hits, and Kevin Rogers drove in a run.

Windom Pirates on a roll

WINDOM — Kobe Lovell and Kade Simmons each had three hits as Windom defeated Lakefield 12-2 on Sunday to complete a doubleheader sweep.

Earlier in the day, the Pirates won 12-2 at Jackson as Collin Lovell struck out eight in six innings of mound duty. Nick Christensen had three hits, including a homer, for Windom. Noah Kloss also had three hits.

Against Lakefield, Luke Gilbertson had two hits and pitched effectively to earn the victory. Kloss and Alex Fink contributed two hits apiece.

Milroy Irish keep winning

Milroy defeated Tracy 10-0 and Heron Lake 7-2 on Sunday to cap a successful week.

The Irish defeated Ruthton 22-1 on Wednesday as Tyler Peterson, Brady Lanoue and Ben Heichel each had four hits.

In the Heron Lake game, Heichel homered again. The Lakers’ Eli Becker had two hits.

Ruthton 3, Adrian 2

RUTHTON — Cody Wichman threw a complete game to lead the Royals past the A’s.

Earlier in the week, Adrian drilled Tracy 18-8 as Jake Olson went 4-for-4 and pitched five strong innings. Brent Hokeness had two hits and played well defensively at catcher for the A’s.

Fox Lake 11, Hadley 2

TRUMAN — Max Zwart singled and doubled for Hadley, which was out-hit 12-4 on Sunday.

Kellan Johnson and Danny Blankenship each had a hit for the Buttermakers.

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