It took Grand Forks Red River some time to put its bats on display. But once the Roughriders did, they showed just why they are the leaders of the Eastern Dakota Conference.
Red River scored four runs in the fourth inning to break open a close 1-0 game and went on to add four more runs in the fifth inning en route to an 11-0 win over the Firebirds on Tuesday at Legion Field. The Roughriders completed the sweep with a 6-0 win in the nightcap.
Red River improved to 13-3 in the EDC and 16-4 overall with Tuesday’s sweep. Devils Lake, meanwhile, fell to 1-10 and 2-12. Tuesday’s nightcap did not count in the conference standings.
Red River had taken the early lead in the opener when Casey Fugleberg drew a leadoff walk to open the second inning. He later moved to third when teammate Mack Arvidson drilled a double to center field. Fugleberg came in to score on a passed ball for the first run of the game.
The Riders had a chance to break the game open at that point as they had a pair of runners on base with just one out. But Devils Lake pitcher Nate Mertens got Bryce Hill to fly to center and then leadoff batter Mitch Anderson popped to Mertens to end the early threat.
Devils Lake had a chance to tie the contest in the bottom of the second after the Firebirds had loaded the bases. Nick Almen doubled to left-center with one out and Jordan Longie coaxed a walk off Red River hurler Jakoby Rippingler. After Mat Senger popped out to the catcher in foul territory, the Firebirds loaded the bases when Eric Nelson’s grounder to short was mishandled to set up a golden opportunity for Devils Lake to do some damage.
That threat ended when Mertens flied to center to end the inning.
After going down in order in the third inning, the Riders erupted in the fourth. Fugleberg opened by beating out a slow roller deep in the hole at short that Longie was unable to get to in time to throw out the speedy Fugleberg who remained at first as the next two batters went down at the hands of Mertens.
But Mertens was unable to get out of the inning unscathed. Danny Palmiscno and Hill drew walks to load the bases and then Anderson drilled a liner to left to drive in Fugleberg. Two batters later, Taylor Steen bounced a drive off the right field fence to drive in Hill and Anderson as Red River grab the momentum.
Mertens, who threw just 56 pitches through the first three innings, lasted just 4.1 innings and left the game after giving up six hits and striking out two batters. He fanned Steen for the second out of the first inning and then got Zach Mahoney looking to end the third inning.
Page 2 of 2 - Ripplinger earned the win for Red River. He went the distance and gave up five hits and struck out six Devils Lake batters.
The two teams combined for just three hits in the second game. Red River scored three runs in the second inning and added three more in the third to secure the win.
Blake Kemnitz picked up the win for the Riders while Eric Nelson was tagged with the loss on the mound for Devils Lake.
Devils Lake is scheduled to entertain Grand Forks Central on Friday at Legion Field. The Knights were just ahead of the Firebirds in the league standings heading into Tuesday’s action. Central was 2-11 in EDC?play and had a 3-16 overall record.
GF Red River 0 1 0 4 4 2 — 11 11 0
Devils Lake 0 0 0 0 0 0 — 0 5 2
WP — Jakoby Rigglinger. LP?— Nate Mertens.
GF Red River 0 3 3 0 0 — 6 2 0
Devils Lake 0 0 0 0 0 — 0 1 1
WP — Blake Kemnitz. LP — Eric Nelson.