He left his share of runners on during previous at-bats, but when the chip pile was sinking way low, Packy Lind delivered. The veteran Redbird second baseman stroked a two-run double in the bottom of the 10th when Isanti defeated Sacred Heart 2-1 in the Aug. 27 State baseball game at Glencoe.
“I went back and thought about my at-bats. I didn’t really put too many good swings on the ball earlier, so I was just trying to square one up– and I finally got one at a good time,” said an elated Lind after the game. “I got a fastball on the outer half, went with it and found a gap.”
Saturday’s victory was followed by a 4-2 Redbird win over Miltona Sunday afternoon in Brownton. Isanti is now one of four undefeated teams left in the Minnesota Class C tourney which began with 32 teams two weekends ago.
The Sacred Heart/Isanti battle was a classic, pitting two aces– Redbird Wade Reichmann and the Saints’ Jeremy Hinderks– against each other. Neither pitcher gave up a run over nine innings, and they both headed back out to the mound for the 10th.
In the top of the 10th, Reichmann induced a pop-up to Lind for the Saints’ first out. Shortstop Brian Schultz then ranged into the hole to his right and made a long throw to a full-stretching Matt Duong at first (a defensive replacement that inning) for the out. That play loomed large because the next batter, Nate Hebrink, pounded a hanging splitter 370’ to left for a homer which got the large Sacred Heart following rejoicing for the 1-0 lead.
Isanti had one out in the bottom of the 10th when Schultz reached on an error at second. He was running on the pitch when Wyatt Soderquist smoked a hard grounder to first which resulted in just one out (instead of a double play). B. J. Samuelson then got on base with an infield hit which had Schultz making it to third.
On an 0-1 pitch, Lind shot a liner into the rightfield gap. Schultz scored the tying run easily, of course, and Samuelson never broke stride from first. He beat the tag in a cloud of dust, setting off a huge Redbird celebration.
“There’s no quit on this team. We’re heading into the dugout for that last half of the inning, and people are saying that’s right where we wanted to be. If there’s still a chance that we can come back and win, then we’ve still got the chance to fight,” said Lind of the Redbirds’ tenacity this season. The team also received a Samuelson walk-off game-winner against Forest Lake at regions which earned the ‘Birds their State berth.
The heroics saved a fantastic outing by Reichmann who did a great “Black Jack Morris” imitation at Glencoe. Reichmann scattered nine hits while allowing just two walks and striking out nine over his 10 innings.
“The last three or four innings felt better than the first three or four. I was pretty tight to start out, then at the end I was able to get loose and have some adrenaline come through,” said Reichmann about his longest performance in a State game. “The guys were playing good behind me, and we got through it.”
Reichmann also held Saint cleanup hitter Hinderks (16 HRs on the season) to an 0-for-5 day. “Our plan was just to go right after him and let him get himself out– wasn’t going to leave a pitch up to him,” said Reichmann. “The defense was right there every time– no errors and I think three big double-plays that really killed Sacred Heart rallies.”
The first Isanti double play was turned in the first inning when Sacred Heart had runners at the corners and one out. In the fourth with runners at second and third, Reichmann caught the No. 9 hitter looking with an inside slider for strike three, ending the inning. Still going strong in the ninth, Reichmann induced a fly to left, got a strikeout with high heat, then busted a bat on a weak fly to right for a 1-2-3 inning.
“Wade was stellar. He was a horse again today; he’s been a horse all year,” said Lind. “It’s good to get into a game and know you’ve got a guy who’s going to give you nine innings.”
The Redbirds had several chances to score earlier in the game. In the fourth, Joe Ramberg was cut down at the plate trying to score from second on a Wyatt Soderquist hit, then Lind struck out with the bases loaded. The Redbirds also had the bases loaded with no outs in the sixth, but they came away with nothing after two fielder’s choices got outs at home, followed by a fly-out to left.
Isanti outhit the Saints 15-9. Bud Heifort, Ramberg and Soderquist all had three hits, with Lind and Samuelson finishing with a pair of hits. Catcher Kyle Johnson had a strong defensive game, gunning out a base-stealer at second for the third out with Hinderks at the plate in the fifth. Johnson also sprinted hard down the first-base line to snag a popped up bunt in the seventh.
Isanti 4, Miltona 2
Playing in Brownton on Sunday, Isanti won its third State game by holding an early 4-0 lead. Ramberg was the pitching star that afternoon, limiting Miltona to six hits and two walks while striking out seven over his nine innings. He is tied with Reichmann with 10 wins on the season.
Isanti led 2-0 out of the gate when Samuelson walked, stole second, and reached third when Lind’s grounder was bobbled. After Lind stole second, Eric Rysdam plated the first run on a groundout, then Johnson singled home Lind.
The Redbirds made it 3-0 in the second when Schultz walked and later scored on Soderquist’s double. In the fifth, Soderquist made it to second on an error, moved up on a passed ball and scored on Johnson’s sacrifice fly.
“Joe was great on the mound for us again,” said Redbird manager Steve Allen. “In the ninth, Miltona had the bases loaded with no outs and down the two runs. Joe struck out the No. 3 hitter for the first out, then he got a ground ball to Packy which turned into a double-play– game over!”
Next up: Nisswa
In the winners’ bracket semifinals, Isanti faces Nisswa Friday, Sept. 2 (7:30 p.m.) back at Brownton. Nisswa defeated the Redbirds 9-5 in the Sartell Tourney championship way back on June 5.
“Nisswa is a good team from a tough northern league,” said Allen. The winner plays again 7 p.m. Saturday night in Glencoe; the loser gets the longer path with a 4 p.m. Saturday game in Brownton. Isanti’s Region 1C partner Big Lake is also still undefeated; the White Caps play Waconia Friday night.
– Photos & story by Greg Hunt