It was a case of “better late than never” for Jordan Schlueter and the Isanti Redbirds in a 6-5 home victory over the Metro Knights on Saturday, June 20.
Isanti’s Town Ball team scored two runs in the seventh inning to tie the game, then completed their comeback by scoring the winning run in the eighth.
And one of the big hits in that late rally was a single by Schlueter who, well, was late.
“I got here around the second inning,” Schlueter sheepishly admitted. “I had no warmups, and I’m sure [manager] Steve [Allen] was mad at me. I just came in and did what I could do.”
Schueler pinch-hit in the eighth and quickly fell behind in the count 0-2 after two swings and misses. But he singled to move Brent Tholen, who singled to start the inning, into scoring position, and Tholen eventually scored the winning run on a wild pitch.
“I knew it would be a tough battle, and I have been struggling [at the plate], especially with inside pitches,” Schlueter said. “I had to change my mentality after the second strike.”
Things started out well for Isanti in the contest as starter James Green struck out seven and allowed just three hits in four scoreless innings, while Wyatt Soderquist homered as part of a four-hit performance to give the Redbirds an early 2-0 lead.
But the Knights scored four times in the fifth to dump Isanti into a hole.
“We went flat in the middle innings – we lost our edge,” Allen said. “Then we got a couple of clutch hits. We kicked the ball around in the middle innings and we had some struggles with our pitching. But I tell the guys all the time: Play all nine [innings].”
The previous evening the Redbirds used a four-run fifth inning to knock off Andover 5-1 at Redbird Field. Phil Bray and four relievers combined to limit the Aces to four hits and two walks that produced one unearned run, with Bray notching 10 of the team’s 18 strikeouts.
Isanti managed to scratch out just two hits, doubles by Mason Voshell and Logan Kalis, but took advantage of seven walks and seven hit batsmen to score enough runs to win.
The Redbirds will be busy in the week ahead, playing four games in six days. That schedule starts on Friday, June 26, when Isanti will host Class B state power Moorhead in a 7:30 start, then host Forest Lake the next day beginning at 2 p.m.
On Monday, June 29, the Redbirds will host Osceola in a 7:30 game. On Wednesday, July 1, Isanti is scheduled to play Stillwater at Redbird Field starting at 7:30 p.m.
The North Branch Nighthawks are hoping to start their season when they travel to Forest Lake to take on the Brewers on Tuesday, June 30, with first pitch set for 7:30 p.m.