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Redbirds' bats are nuking the amateur baseball competition

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When the powerful Luverne Redbirds were blanked 3-0 by Eagle Lake last September in the first round of the Minnesota Baseball Association’s State C tournament, a lot of fans in this area were stunned.

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“So were we,” said Luverne slugger Ben Serie. “We don’t know what happened. That game was postponed from Friday to Sunday (by rain) and we had to wait around all that time to play. It just didn’t work out.”

The Redbirds, who finished the 2021 season with a 26-6 record, have pretty much erased the memory of that shutout loss thanks to a consistent offensive attack this summer, an example of which was on display Sunday in Hadley.

Serie, 21, continued a remarkable hot streak with two homers to lead Luverne to a 25-13 victory over the host Buttermakers on a sultry Sunday. A catcher-first baseman with three years of eligibility remaining at the University of Sioux Falls, Serie drove in four runs with three hits, including a three-run homer in the third and a solo shot in the sixth.

Serie has five homers in the last four games for Luverne, which improved to 9-2 in the Gopher League and 11-2 overall.

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“I like playing on this team a lot,” said Serie, who graduated from Luverne High in 2019. “All these guys are good friends.”

And good hitters.

Serie hit .280 with seven home runs this spring at USF, where Luverne’s Derek Lundgren and Jake Haugen are also members of the baseball team. Lundgren had three hits and scored five runs on Sunday, while Haugen had a three-run double.

Skyler Wenninger went 3-for-6 with four RBIs, while winning pitcher Ethan Breyer had three hits and drove in three. Newt Johnson crashed a three-run homer for the Redbirds.

Alex Petersen had a single and solo homer for Hadley, which dropped to 6-3 in league play. Derek Platt drove in three runs, while Joe Larson and Bruning each knocked in a pair.

Luverne has been scoring runs by the bunches in recent weeks. In 11 league games, the Redbirds have outscored their foes by an average of 13-4. Several team members are using wood bats manufactured by the Naked Bat Company. After home runs, the Redbirds post pictures on Twitter with the bats, which are called “Naked Nukes.”

Apparently the lumber is legit.

“We like those bats a lot,” said Serie.

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It shows.

In other games last week involving Gopher and First Nite League teams it was:

Ruthton 15, Heron Lake 13

HERON LAKE — The Royals scored 10 runs in the seventh en route to a victory over the Lakers.

Brent Wiering had a two-run single and Cody Wichmann added an RBI triple for Ruthton.

For Heron Lake, Angel Perez went 3-for-4 with a two-run double and a grand slam. Gabriel Robles had a pair of doubles, and Joey Kinsey went 3-for-6 with two RBIs.

Adrian 2, Pipestone 0 (7)

PIPESTONE — Tucker Sorenson threw a one-hitter and struck out 15 for Adrian on Sunday.

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Sorenson also had a hit and a run scored. Adrian’s runs were driven in by Jake Stamer and Nick Harder.

Milroy Irish 12, Jackson 4 (7)

MILROY —Ben Heichel went 4-for-4 as the Irish earned a victory on Sunday.

Josh Baker and Brady Lanoue homered for the winners.

Windom 8, Fox Lake 2

TRUMAN — Kobe Lovell allowed but one hit over eight innings and struck out seven as the Pirates won on the road Sunday.

Alex Fink had three hits, including a homer, for Windom. Luke Gilbertson, Noah Kloss and Drew Rothenberger each had two hits.

Milroy Irish 12, Lakefield 1 (7)

MILROY — Chase Douglas and Anthony Dolan each had two hits as the Irish stayed unbeaten in Gopher League play on Sunday.

Jackson 16, Hadley 6 (7)

HADLEY — The visiting Bulls took advantage of 13 walks en route to a non-conference victory over the Buttermakers.

The win was costly, as Jackson star shortstop Easton Bahr suffered an apparent dislocated elbow in a fall while hustling after a pop up in shallow left field.

Nick Bruning had an RBI double and Danny Blankenship knocked in two runs for Hadley.

Windom 4, Jackson 0

WINDOM —Star pitcher Collin Lovell fanned 16 in a nine-inning complete game victory on Friday.

Drew Rothenberger, Alex Fink and Kobe Lovell had two hits apiece for the Pirates.

Shad Wacker had three of Jackon’s six hits.

Jackson 24, Adrian 10 (7)

ADRIAN — Lucas Gardner had four hits and eight RBIs for Jackson, which scored 13 runs in the sixth to post a victory last Wednesday.

Gardner had a three-run homer and a double. Chris Gumto had five hits and Evan Olesen had four.

Ruthton 6, Pipestone 5 (11)

PIPESTONE — Chris Dougherty had five hits as the Royals prevailed in extra innings last Wednesday.

Jared Baartman earned the pitching victory in relief of Ruthton starter Mitchell Biever.

Milroy 9, Windom 1

WINDOM — Moses Dolan earned the pitching victory and Brady Lanoue had a double, triple and three RBIs as the Irish won last Wednesday.

Luverne 17, Lakeview 7 (7)

LUVERNE — Gaige Nath singled, doubled and tripled as the Redbirds won last Wednesday.

STANDINGS

(League games only)

First Nite League—1, Windom 10-2; 2, Jackson 10-4; 3, Fairmont 4-3; 4, Fox Lake 3-5; 5, Lakefield 3-6; 6, Heron Lake 2-9; 7, Mountain Lake 1-6

Gopher League—1, Milroy Irish 9-0; 2, Luverne 9-2; 3, Hadley 6-3; 4, Adrian 5-4; 5, Pipestone 3-6; 6, Ruthton 3-8; 7, Worthington 0-10.

SCHEDULE

Wednesday, June 22–Worthington at Ruthton, 7:30; Hadley at Lakefield, 7:30; Pipestone at Luverne, 7:30; Fairmont at Windom 7:30; Heron Lake at Jackson, 7:30; Mountain Lake at Adrian, 7:30; Milroy Irish at Wabasso, 7:30.

Thursday, June 23–Mountain Lake at Lamberton, 7:30.

Friday, June 24–Brookings Cubs at Luverne, 7:30.

Saturday, June 25–Jackson at Milroy Yankees, 6:00.

Sunday, June 26–Pipestone at Worthington, 2:00; Hadley at Heron Lake, 2:00; Ruthton at Milroy, 2:00; Mountain Lake at Jackson, 2:00; Lakefield at Windom, 2:00; Luverne at Fox Lake, 2:00; Adrian at Fairmont, 2:00; Luverne at Fairmont 5:00; Adrian at Fox Lake 5:00; Heron Lake at Windom, 5:00; Hadley at Milroy Irish, 5:00.

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Scott Mansch, who in a crowded Viking tavern has been known to say “Go Pack Go” at times in complete disregard for his health, can be reached at smansch5rockets@gmail.com
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