HINCKLEY – The Isanti Redbirds earned a berth in the Minnesota Baseball Association’s 2019 Class C State Tournament with a 5-0 win over Mora in the semifinals of the Region 1 tournament played at Brennan Field Friday, Aug. 9.
The Redbirds used a strong pitching performance by starter James Green and two late rallies to punch their ticket for the state tournament. It will be Isanti’s first appearance in the Class C state tournament since the Redbirds won the title in 2011; the team has played in Class B from 2012-2018.
Green was impressive, allowing just three hits and one walk while fanning six in seven shutout innings. The only trouble he had to pitch through came in the sixth, when back-to-back singles and a stolen base put Blue Devil runners on second and third with two outs.
But Green notched a three-pitch strikeout of Mora’s No. 4 hitter to end that threat.
Isanti broke the scoreless tie with two runs in the seventh thanks to an RBI single by Joe Tuholsky and a sacrifice fly by Nick Hoffman. The Redbirds broke the game open with a three-run eighth that included run-scoring hits by Trevor Weidt and Mitch Dunbar.
Tuholsky came on in the eighth and got the final six outs, thanks in part to three strikeouts.
UPDATE: The Redbirds suffered a 7-6 loss in 11 innings to Mora on Sunday, Aug. 11, and as a result will be the second seed from Region 1 in the Class C state tournament.
Isanti will face Morristown from Region 6 in a first-round game on Saturday, Aug. 17 starting at 7 p.m. in Delano. The winner of that contest will play Young America from Region 7 in Delano on Friday, Aug. 22, with first pitch that evening scheduled for 7:30 p.m.
NORTH BRANCH'S SEASON ENDS SATURDAY: The North Branch Nighthawks saw their chances to advance to state dashed by a heartbreaking 7-6 loss to Hibbing on Saturday, Aug. 10.
North Branch won its first game on Saturday, knocking off Princeton 3-1. With the win, they advanced to the semifinals of the loser's bracket to take on the Miners, who needed just seven innings to beat East Bethel 13-2 in Saturday's first game.
The Nighthawks built an early 6-0 lead against Hibbing but did not have a hit after the third inning. Meanwhile the Miners scored a run in the fifth, got back in the game with a four-run sixth, then tied the contest with a run in the eighth.
That set the stage for Hibbing to score a walk-off run in the ninth to claim the victory and end North Branch's season.