Redbirds rally at regions

Isanti beats Saints, Brewers (twice) to advance to Class B Super Sections: Isanti continued its quest to return to the State amateur baseball tournament with a gutsy rally in last weekend’s Region 2B battles. The Redbirds came back from a winners’ bracket loss to post three victories, including defeating host Forest Lake twice to claim the top seed out of 2B.

The Redbirds’ B.J. Samuelson (right) is met at home by Jake Maros after scoring a run in the Sunday afternoon win over Forest Lake. Samuelson has scored 34 runs for Isanti this season. Photos by Clint Riese, Forest Lake Times

“I tip my hats to the guys for working through 27 innings on Sunday,” said ‘Bird skipper Steve Allen. “Hopefully, we keep playing well.”

Isanti now enters the Class B Super Section level of the post-season. They take on tough Chaska on Friday, Aug. 17 (6 p.m.) at the Cubs’ sweet ballpark near the river. Also in that Super Section are the Austin Blue Sox and the top-ranked Mankato Twins which have CIHS grad and former Redbird Ryan Greene pitching for them this season.

The top two teams from each of the four Super Sections advance to the Class B State tourney which opens Aug. 24-25 in St. Cloud (Faber & Putz Fields) and Cold Spring. Games at Chaska continue at 1 p.m. Aug. 18 (Friday night losers’ matchup), 4 p.m. (Friday night winners– winner advances) and 7 p.m. (final berth determiner).

Region 2B results

After the previous weekend’s action, Isanti faced Forest Lake Saturday night– a team they defeated twice during Metro Minny play. As Coach Allen described, the Brewers strung enough bleeders and doinks to beat Redbird starter Joe Ramberg 7-4, finishing with 12 hits against the lefty. Tyler Schaff ripped a solo homer in the fourth for an Isanti offensive highlight.

Dallas Nelson improved to 8-0 with a complete-game win over Forest Lake Sunday afternoon. Nelson racked up 64 strikeouts in 78 innings for Isanti this season.

The Redbirds returned to Forest Lake Sunday afternoon for a survival contest against St. Francis. Adam West improved to 9-1 and lowered his ERA to 1.36 by holding down the Saints in a 6-1 victory, allowing just 5 hits while striking out 4.

“Adam has been just rock-solid for us all year. Any chance St. Francis had, he found a way to shut them down,” exclaimed Allen. Eric Rysdam, Kyle Johnson and Brian Schultz all rapped 2 hits for his squad in the victory.

In Game 2 on Sunday, it was Dallas Nelson stepping up on the mound to post a 10-3 win over Forest Lake which kept him perfect at 8-0 on the season. The big righty scattered 7 hits and had 4 Ks in the complete-game effort. The ‘Birds got started with a solo homer by Johnson, his sixth of the season. They broke it open with 6 runs in the third inning with big RBI hits from Jake Maros, Brent Burman and Matt Duong. Rysdam continued his hot hitting, going 3-for-5.

The baseball marathon continued Sunday evening with the battle for a No. 1 seed for Super Sections, and Isanti held on for a 9-8 win over the Brewers. Forest Lake led early 2-0, but Packy Lind sparked the Redbirds with a solo homer leading off the fourth. The lead grew to 4-2 on run-scoring hits by Schaff and Schultz later that inning. The Redbirds made it 6-2 in the sixth when Schultz walked and Nick Johnson singled, followed by base hits from B.J. Samuelson, Lind and a bases-loaded walk coaxed by Rysdam.

Justin Krie started and went 6 innings, allowing 3 earned runs on 8 hits. Isanti kept its four-run cushion at 9-5 with three more runs in the eighth. Garrett Hedberg singled and Samuelson was hit by a pitch. Lind sacrificed the runners up, then Rysdam doubled home both runs. K. Johnson’s fielder’s choice brought in the final ‘Bird run.

But the Brewers kept battling off relievers Duong and Troy Heifort. They rallied for 3 runs in the bottom of ninth before Heifort closed the deal by inducing a double-play ball and ending the game with a strikeout.

“You know, coming into the season as ‘C’ State champs, we had targets on our backs. And the guys didn’t want this season to end, so they found a way through those 27 innings on Sunday,” said a proud Coach Allen. Rysdam finished the tourney with 7 hits in 15 at-bats, and Schultz added a hot 6-for-13 work at the plate.

Baseball tourney notes

Forest Lake was sent to the Elko Super Section to face Dundas. That tough grouping also includes defending ‘B’ champ Sauk Rapids and Coon Rapids of the Metro Minny, who finished as league runners-up to Isanti. Coach Allen advised to keep an eye on the Shakopee Super Section to see if the Victoria Vics– whom many consider as the top ‘B’ team in the State– can keep rolling.

• In the Region 1C tourney at Hinckley last weekend, it was Sartell and Clear Lake moving on to the ‘C’ State tournament. Mora out of the Eastern Minny fell 7-6 to Clear Lake on Sunday.