Elko knocks Redbirds from State brackets

Elko broke open a tie game in sixth inning and went on to defeat Isanti 15-5 in the opening round of the Minnesota Class B amateur baseball tournament played in Le Seuer Aug. 23.

Bud Heifort’s RBI single had the Redbirds up 1-0 in the top of the second. In the third, Kyle Johnson belted a three-run homer to left to put Isanti back up 4-2. The Express worked back ahead 5-4 in the fifth, then Heifort’s RBI double knotted the game in the top of the sixth.

Elko took over in the bottom of that inning to pull away for good. T. J. Evanson hit the first of his two home runs, and Ryan Van Dusen poked a two-run single for an 8-5 advantage. Evanson’s two-run dinger and an RBI double made it 11-5 in the seventh, then Nick Altaville won the game by the 10-run rule in the eighth with a three-run homer.

“Elko has a really good hitter in T.J. Evanson. Joe got him out the first two times, but then he went three-for-three the next three times up,” said Isanti skipper Steve Allen, whose team was without two starters due to other commitments for the State game.

The loss had the Redbirds finishing the successful 2014 summer with a 27-16 record.

“I’m really proud of this year’s team. With our veteran players aging and moving on with their lives, we have started bringing in some younger players. These younger players played a lot of baseball for us this summer. When it comes time for some of the veteran players to retire, hopefully the young guys will be ready to carry on the culture of Redbird baseball,” finished Allen. “I also can’t say enough positive things about the commitment and leadership our veteran players provide to the team. They give up a lot to be a ’Bird, and they’re a fun group of guys to be around all summer.”

K. Johnson finished up with 30 RBI to lead the Redbirds this summer as he hit .367. Tyler Schaff had 23 RBI, and Dan Hamann totalled 22. Ramberg and Adam West both won six games on the mound, with West leading the team by posting 62 strikeouts over 74.6 innings.

• Elko will take on Isanti’s Metro Minny League partner Blaine in this Friday night’s Class B quarterfinals at Belle Plaine. Blaine was the lone MML team out of four to win its opener and advance. The “B” semis will be Aug. 31, with the championship on Labor Day in Belle Plaine.