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Redbirds end season, falling to Bluffton 1-0 at the state tourney

Declan Beers reacts to the fustration of the Redbirds not being able to produce at the plate against Bluffton in Dassel Sept. 2. Luverne ended its season 26-2.
Declan Beers reacts to the fustration of the Redbirds not being able to produce at the plate against Bluffton in Dassel Sept. 2. Luverne ended its season 26-2.
By
Greg Hoogeveen

The Luverne Redbirds lost to the Bluffton Braves 1-0 Saturday, Sept. 2, in Dassel, ending an extended playoff season that boasted a 26-2 record.

The Braves were able to score one run in the first inning, and that is where the score stood for the entire game.

Late in the seventh inning the Cardinals looked as if they might tie the game up.

Nick Smith got walked with two outs.

Smith then advanced to second and then third base on an error by the pitcher.

In a heads-up play, Smith led off third base and acted as if he might steal home, trying to distract the Braves at the same time.

It seemed to work, with the Bluffton pitcher seeming to have balked before a pitch.

If the pitcher were called for a balk in that situation, Smith would have to be granted a base, a base that would have tied the game at 1-1.

It was possibly a missed call by the field umpire and was never acknowledged as a balk.

Bluffton went on to get the third out and retire the seventh inning with the Braves still ahead 1-0.

Luverne was unable to get any good traction in the eighth inning and didn’t score in the top of the ninth inning, giving the Braves a 1-0 win in the Sweet 16 bracket.

The Redbirds ended the season with an impressive 21-2 record and reached the Sweet 16 for the second time since 2015.

“It was a tough game for us offensively,” team manager Brooks Maurer said.

“Ben threw really well and gave us a chance to win. When you get to the final weekend, everyone is really tough and you need to have one little thing go your way, but unfortunately that didn’t happen for us.”

“It was an incredibly fun season. You can’t hang your head after only losing two games all year and finishing in the top 16 at state.”

The Braves went on to beat Delano 1-0 in the Elite 8 and fell to Maple Lake 8-6 in the final four.

Maple Lake then took on Bird Island for the championship and won 6-4 on Monday, Sept. 4, in Delano.

 

Box Scores

Inning  1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9

RBirds  0   0   0   0   0   0   0   0   0 

BLFF    1   0   0   0   0   0   0   0   x 

 

Luverne Redbirds

BATTING       AB     R      H    RBI

S. Wenninger  4      0       0       0

Serie               4       0       0       0

Smith              2       0       0       0

Paquette         3       0       0       0

Johnson          3       0       0       0

Lundgren        3       0       0       0

Beers              3       0       0       0

Sehr                3       0       1       0

C. Wenninger  2       0       0       0

2B: Sehr

Total Bases: Sehr 2

 

PITCHING        IP  H   R  ER  SO

Serie               7.5   8    1   1    3

Pitches-Strikes: Serie 119-77

Batters Faced: Serie 35

 

double play
Derek Lundgren (foreground) watches a Newt Johnson completes a double-play at first against Bluffton.

 

Casey Sehr
Casey Sehr slides into second base before the catch.  

 

Redbirds vs. Bluffton
Redbirds and Bluffton line up before their play-off game Saturday, Sept. 2 in Dassel.

 

Team manager Brooks Maurer steps down

Maurer announced days after the state tournament that he would be stepping down as the team manager after nine years at the helm.

“I am not sure who is going to step in yet, but the team knew at the end of last year this was going to be my last year so we have been talking about different options,” Maurer said.

“I am going to help whoever the next manager is with the transition and anything they need help with, and I plan on showing up to dress for a few games when it works out.”

Maurer said that it’s gotten harder to make things work coaching softball, football and the Redbirds with a growing family.

When asked about his favorite memories with the team, Maurer said the entire experience has been memorable.

“It’s really hard to pick a favorite memory. There have been so many,” he said.

“Obviously the five state tournaments come to mind, but honestly just getting to hang out with the boys and watching my son run around on the field after games are my Top 2.”

Brooks Maurer
Brooks Maurer helps warm up the Redbirds before every game. This was his last season as manager.

 

Maurer pitching
Maurer was not only the manager, he also played in a few games during the year.