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Flying high: Redbirds rout Adrian in Region 13 opener; Windom, Jackson and Milroy start well

A hot night in Luverne seemed to sap the energy of the Adrian A’s amateur baseball team Wednesday night. But the heat appeared to have no effect on Luverne Redbirds.

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Luverne Redbirds Kendall Meyer (15) slides safely into second base covered by Adrian A's right fielder Mike Preuss as second baseman Grant Jansma follows the play during Region 13 amateur baseball game at Luverne Wednesday evening. Tim Middagh / The Globe

LUVERNE -- A hot night in Luverne seemed to sap the energy of the Adrian A’s amateur baseball team Wednesday night. But the heat appeared to have no effect on Luverne Redbirds.

The Redbirds took charge early in the first game of their best-of-three Region 13 playoff series, rolling to a 15-0 victory over seven innings. The top-seeded team in the eight-team tournament field, Luverne collected 13 hits including a pair of home runs from shortstop Skyler Wenninger. Adrian had just one hit in the game and committed five errors to Luverne’s zero.

Adrian player-coach Mike Preuss didn’t blame the heat.

“We just got behind in counts. Didn’t start out with strikes. Yeah, it was a hot one,” he said. “I don’t know what it was, we just came out flat-footed.”

It was a bad beat, but it was just one loss. The A’s prepared to host Luverne in Game Two Friday night (final result too late for Globe press time) and Preuss was hoping his star left-hander, Tucker Sorenson, would be available to help get the A’s even.

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“He threw quite a bit last week (13 innings total on Wednesday and Sunday). We don’t know how his arm is right now,” Preuss said. “He’s probably one of the best pitchers in the league. It’s always nice having somebody like that around.”

Game Three, if necessary, is Sunday at 2 p.m. in Luverne.

While the A’s stumbled on Wednesday, the Redbirds coasted. They scored twice in the bottom of the first inning as Adrian starter Ian Stamer struggled with his control. They added three in the second and seven in the third.

“It’s always nice to get the first one. Their pitching struggled a little bit early on, and we kind of took advantage of it,” said Luverne manager Brooks Maurer.

There were several hitting stars. At the top of the list was Wenninger. He walked his first two times at bat and also on his fifth time up. But in at bats three and four he homered -- the first one a two-run job in the third inning, and the second a solo shot in the fourth.

Teammate Phil Paquette, as usual, looked sharp at the plate. He also looked sharp on the basepaths. In the third inning, after drilling a line drive RBI single and taking second on a throw home, he went from second to home on a passed ball when Adrian catcher Brent Hokeness had trouble locating the ball.

Jake Haugen, who pitched six strong innings, belted a pair of two-run doubles.

Maurer has high hopes for this Luverne team, and he doesn’t want to lose steam should they qualify for the state tournament. The previous two seasons, the Redbirds won their first game at state before losing their next one by a single run.

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“I personally think this is the best team we’ve had since I’ve been here,” said Maurer, who’s in his seventh season with the club. “We’d like to get to that final weekend (at state), and after that you never know what happens.”

In other first-round Region 13 contests Wednesday night, Jackson defeated Hadley 3-2, the Milroy Irish blasted Lakefield 13-1 in seven innings, and Windom blanked Pipestone 4-0. Jackson scored all its three runs with two out in the bottom of the first inning, highlighted by a Briar Rowley two-run double. Ryan Rasche pitched seven-plus innings for the Bulls. Ben Heichel led Milroy with three hits including a home run, and teammate Jake Plaetz hit a three-run homer. The Pirates’ Collin Lovell pushed his record to 10-0 on the season with a complete game two-hitter against Pipestone.

Friday’s 7:30 p.m. action had Lakefield at Milroy, Luverne at Adrian and Windom at Pipestone. The second game of the Jackson-Hadley series is 2 p.m. today (Saturday).

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Luverne Redbirds pitcher Jake Haugen (22) winds up for a pitch against visiting Adrian A's during Region 13 amateur baseball game in Luverne Wednesday evening. Tim Middagh / The Globe

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