One decision can make coach a hero. The risk is assessed, the shot taken, success is met, and it’s Great job!, with handshakes all around. The risk fails, and well, it’s woulda, shoulda, couldas and armchair coaches will inform everyone of the proper decision for days if not decades. Coach Brent Leuhring played to win and took a risk sending the runner but the throw from center field was on the money at the plate.
The Firebirds took on the Fargo South Bruins for their last game of the condensed season last night, Monday, May 21, here at home at Roosevelt Park. A win would’ve meant a trip to the EDC playoffs for the Firebirds.

One decision can make coach a hero.  The risk is assessed, the shot taken, success is met, and it’s Great job!, with handshakes all around.  The risk fails, and well, it’s woulda, shoulda, couldas and armchair coaches will inform everyone of the proper decision for days if not decades.  Coach Brent Leuhring played to win and took a risk sending the runner but the throw from center field was on the money at the plate.

The Firebirds took on the Fargo South Bruins for their last game of the condensed season last night, Monday, May 21, here at home at Roosevelt Park.  A win would’ve meant a trip to the EDC playoffs for the Firebirds.

The teams traded runs in the first inning, but in the top of the second, the Bruins plated three, two of them with two outs on the board.  The Firebirds answered in their half of the frame with two runs, one of them on a swinging strike three that went past the catcher and put Jacob Greene at first on good hustle from the plate. 

In the top of the third, the Firebirds defense stranded the two Bruin runners, but in the bottom of the inning the Bruins put the Firebirds down in order.

The Bruins put two on the the fourth and left them there.  Chris Shepard led off the Firebirds’ bottom of the inning with a double into the corner of left field.  Luke Aanstad reached on balls and a passed ball on the next batter sent Shepard to third, putting runners at the corners with one out.  But, the bats went silent and the runners stayed.

Bruin Andrew Erickson sent a sharp line drive over second base to start the fifth, and then went to second on a wild pitch.  Bruin Tanner Dubois walked, and another wild pitch, this one to Chase Larson, sent Erickson and Dubois each up a base.  Larson hit a hard grounder to Parker Vilandre at third, who held Erickson and made a rope for a 5-3 out at first.  But Wyatt Hanson put down a perfect bunt on a safety squeeze bringing Erickson home.  Austin Zurn then popped up to short, and Tanner Kirkeby flied out to center and left runners still standing at the corners.  

The Firebirds went down in order for the second time in the game, and it was 5-3 Bruins, going into the sixth.

The Bruins Tanner Beaton led off with a single, but the next three batters all hit flies to the outfield to end the top half.

The bottom of the sixth started with DH Parker Schmid getting hit by a pitch.  Hunter Swanson came in to run for him, but was forced out at second and Shepard safe at first on a fielder’s choice.  Michael Widmer got an infield hit, and Aanstad followed with a single to center.  That loaded the bases with one out and the Bruins brought Beaton in to pitch and sent Davis Lawley to left.  Greene hit the second Beaton pitch, a grounder with eyes that found its way right through short for a two RBI single to tie the game at five each.

The Firebirds sent the Bruins down in order in the top of the seventh, and got some small ball of their own going with one out.  

Vilandre reached on a single to left, and Schmid hit a single to center.  Shepard hit a slow grounder right past the second base bag into center, and Vilandre came flying past third.  The Bruin center fielder came charging in on the ball, scooped it up, and made a dagger to the plate, catching Vilandre who tried to leap over the tag.  A hard liner right back to the pitcher’s mitt ended the inning.

The Bruins got runners to second and third in the top of the eight, and a swinging bunt brought what became the winning run across the plate.  The Firebirds flied out in order to end the game. 

The Bruins won 6-5 in eight innings.

“It was a tough loss,” said Leuhring after the game.  “We did have some chances, but we weren’t getting the contact with our bats.  Of course it was a gamble sending Vilandre, but it’s one I’d take again.  We were playing to win.  I challenged his arm in center and he made the throw.  I’m proud of my guys, though, really proud.  It was tough tonight, but they fought back to tie the game and send it into extra innings. It was a tough season overall, with the weather and snow.  This is good group of guys and I’m really confident in what will do next year.”