The Devils Lake Firebirds baseball team picked up their first two wins of the season by sweeping Valley City in a double-header on Thursday May 9, 2013.
In the first game of the evening, the Firebirds came out swinging and tallied 12 runs off of 13 hits.
Devils Lake started off the first inning with two big runs to take an early lead. Valley City came back in the second inning with a run of their own to cut the deficit in half.
The lone run by Valley City in the top of the second never phased the Firebirds who went on to score three runs in the second and third inning to take a commanding 8-1 lead.
Valley City would get one more run in the top of the fourth, which ended up being their last run of the game.
Devils Lake went on to score two runs in the fourth and fifth inings to end this game early.
According to the Department of North Dakota American League Baseball, all games will be considered a complete contest if one team is leading by 10 or more runs at the end of five innings.
The final two runs in the fifth inning made it a 12-2 final in favor of the Firebirds.
“We had been looking to string some hits together and push some runs across and we were finally able to do that,” said head coach Justin Bear.
It was hard to point out one particular player who had a great game because everyone played so well. In game one, senior Damond Brokke led the way with three hits, three RBI, and two runs. Senior Nick Almen also had a terrific game by going 2-3 with two RBI.
On the mound for the Firebirds was senior Nathan Mertens. Mertens had a career game and almost pitched a no-hitter.
Mertens only allowed one hit throughout the game and struck out nine batters in the process.
“Nate Mertens gave us a good solid start on the mound and got us the win,” added Bear.
On the basepath, the Firebirds stole bases like it was their jobs. The team tallied a total of nine stolen bases throughout the shortened game.
Leading the way was Brokke, Brady LaMotte, and Austin Moser who all stole two bases. Gabe Schmidt, Jordan Swanson, and Mertens also recorded a stolen base.
The second game of the night was much more competitve and Valley City didn’t let the beatdown in game one phase them.
This game started much like the earlier game with the Firebirds taking a big lead early. The score after two innings was 5-0 in favor of Devils Lake.
Page 2 of 2 - It looked like this one would end early too, but Valley City made sure that wasn’t the case. There wasn’t much action in the third inning and the score remained 5-0.
In the top of the fourth inning, Valley City finally came alive and produced three runs to cut the Firebirds lead to two runs. Devils Lake couldn’t respond in the bottom of the inning which kept the score at 5-3 going into the top of the fifth.
Valley City had momentum but couldn’t do anything in the fifth. Devils Lake also struggled in the fifth which meant they had a two run lead with only two innings remaining.
Valley City recorded one run in the sixth to make it a one run game. The Firebirds responded with a run of their own to make it a 6-4 game with only one inning to play.
Devils Lake wouldn’t allow anything to happen in the top of the seventh to make it a 6-4 final.
These games were key for the Firebirds because it should help build their confidence going into Saturday’s games against West Fargo and Shanley.
“It was important to pick up the wins tonight. We had more quality pitching from Holden Kurtz and Jordan Swanson,” said Bear.
The Firebirds ran the basepath well again in game two and recorded five stolen bases. Jordan Swanson and Landen Hall both stole two bases while Kallen Freemen tallied one of his own.
The two wins improve the Firebirds record to 2-5 on the year.
You can catch the Firebirds next home game on Monday May 13, when they take on Grand Forks Central in a double-header. Scheduled start times for those games are 5 pm for game one and 7 pm for game two.