Sunday was a big day for several area Town Ball teams.
The Isanti Redbirds staked a claim as one of the top Class C squads in the state by knocking off defending state champion Jordan in a 12-2 rout that day. The Brewers entered the contest as the top-ranked team in the state, so the win is an impressive feather in the Redbirds’ cap.
“They were a little bit undermanned, so you have to take that into consideration,” Isanti manager Steve Allen said of Jordan. “We had one inning where we got a little out of whack, but we came back and put some more runs on the board and [starting pitcher] James Green got locked right back in.”
Green struck out 10 in six solid innings to keep the Brewers in check. Meanwhile the Redbirds pounded out 17 hits, scoring four times in the first inning, three in the fourth and four more in the sixth before run-ruling the visitors in the seventh.
Mitch Dunbar had three hits and scored twice in the win, while Wyatt Soderquist also had three hits and scored three times while knocking in two RBIs.
On that same Sunday, Rum River clinched no worse than second place in the Eastern Minny League’s Central Division thanks to a doubleheader sweep of North Branch.
The Bandits scored nine runs in the eighth to claim a 11-4 victory in extra innings in the first game, then pounded out a 10-1 victory in the nightcap.
“Second place is a big deal, because it gives us a shot at a bye in the first round of the Region 1 tournament,” Rum River manager Tom Koplitz said. “When we lost the game at Chisago, I thought we might need to be lucky to finish second. But with this sweep, this gives us the tiebreaker over North Branch.”
The key to the sweep came in the eighth inning of the opener, when Andy Julkowski blasted a three-run homer that started a nine-run avalanche that buried the Nighthawks.
“That home run was probably the high point of the season for us,” Koplitz said. “The entire dugout came out and was yelling. And we scored nine runs, which was really deflating for them.”
Julkowski also had a home run in the nightcap to back a strong pitching performance by Rick Wells.
“Rick threw a complete game, and it was easily his best game as a Bandit,” Koplitz said. “He was sharp, mixing his locations well, and he was throwing hard.”
The sweep was part of a 4-1 week for the Bandits, who bashed 46 runs in five games. After losing to Isanti 9-5 on Monday, July 13, Rum River bounced back to beat Chisago Lakes 11-1 two days later as Julkowski had three hits, including a double and a triple.
The Bandits then knocked off Hinckley 9-5 on Saturday, July 18, as each member of the batting order scored one run. Ryan Miller had four hits in that win, while Alex Wilkey crushed a long home run and had five RBIs in the game.
“We’ve been hitting the ball up and down the lineup,” Koplitz said. “And we had a lot of extra-base hits. We’re really swinging the bats well right now.”
Isanti also had a successful week, winning all four of its games. Monday’s win over Rum River, which featured a 5-for-5 day at the plate by Soderquist, was followed by a 5-1 victory over St. Francis in which Logan Kalis and Brent Tholen combined on a one-hitter.
The Redbirds bashed Chisago Lakes 15-3 on Saturday, July 18, behind a 17-hit attack in which Kalis and Zach Walz each had three hits. Kalis homered in that contest and finished with five RBIs.
Braham joined North Branch in dropping both ends of a doubleheader Sunday, losing at Mora by scores of 8-0 and 10-0. The Snappers finished with a total of just four hits in the two losses.
This week is an important one for all four teams as they jockey for position in the standings as well as the best possible seedings in the Region 1 tournament, which will be held at Hinckley’s Brennan Field starting Saturday, Aug. 1.
Isanti, which opened the week with a game at Chisago Lakes on Monday, July 20, could clinch at least a share of the division title by winning its contest against Rum River on Wednesday, July 22, to be played in Isanti. The Redbirds then finish the week with a game at North Branch on Saturday, July 25, starting at 2 p.m.
Isanti also will host Stillwater in a non-league contest on Monday, July 26.
North Branch will face Mora on Wednesday, July 22, before taking on Isanti on Saturday afternoon and then traveling to Ramsey for a game starting at noon the next day.
Braham will play at Chisago Lakes on Friday, July 24, with first pitch set for 7:30 p.m., then play at Nowthen the next day starting at 2 p.m.