The ND Babe Ruth Commissioner invited the Firebirds to play in the regional tournament in Kansas.

After top finishes in local tournaments and a great showing at the North Dakota State Cal Ripken tournament, the Devils Lake Cal Ripken 11U baseball team received a phone call from the North Dakota State Babe Ruth Commissioner on July 18 inviting them to play in the Cal Ripken Midwest Regional tournament in Pittsburg, Kansas July 27-30.

The Midwest regions consists of North Dakota, Minnesota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Colorado, Kansas and Missouri. All teams checked in Wednesday, July 26 with a tournament picnic, wiffle ball games and a wiffle ball homerun derby. The tournament setup was pool play July 27-29, with the championship round on July 30.

The Firebirds opened the tournament up on Thursday against the Minnesota State Champions from Breckenridge, MN. It was a hard fought, back and forth 8-7 loss. The highlight of the game was in the top of the sixth inning with the bases loaded, two outs, down 6-4 and Beau Brodina had a bases clearing triple to put the Firebirds up 7-6. Breckenridge was able to garner two runs in the bottom of sixth to steal the win, 8-7. Beau Brodina received MVP honors for his hitting performance and Max Palmer earned the WOW award for his exceptional play.

Next up for the Firebirds was the Minnesota State runner up, the Baxter All Stars. DL came out firing behind the strong pitching of Zach Boren as he only allowed one hit in four strong innings. The Firebirds bats were on fire behind multiple hits from Parker Brodina, Brendan Conner and Zach Boren. The Firebirds beat the All Stars by ending the game early in the fourth inning, 10-0. Parker Brodina earned MVP honors for his home run and two doubles. Zach Boren earned the WOW award for his pitching.

On Friday, July 28, the DL Cal Ripken team faced off against the top two teams from the state of Kansas. First up was the Kansas State Champs from Frontenac. The Firebirds took an early lead in the first inning. With bases loaded, Parker Brodina doubled, scoring Drew Hofstad, Zach Boren and Jackson Baeth.

Trason Beck followed with a double to score Parker Brodina. Cullen Schmaltz had the hill for the game and a stellar performance allowing only one hit and one run in four strong innings. The Firebirds beat the Frontenac All Stars 11-1 by 10 run rule in four innings. Fausten Olson received the MVP award for collecting multiple hits in the game. Cullen Schmaltz was awarded the WOW award for his excellent pitching.

Next up for the Firebirds was a powerhouse, the Pittsburgh All Stars. They were the 2016 Kansas State Champions and Midwest Regionals runner-up.

The DL Firebirds started on fire and stayed hot collecting 14 hits in the game. The game was a back and forth battle in the trenches that had DL with their back against the wall after Pittsburgh took a 9-8 lead in the fourth inning by a grand slam.

The boys didn't give up and battled back to come away with a 14-11 win. Trason Beck led the Firebirds with five RBIs going three-for-four. Drew Hofstad, Beau Brodina, Zach Boren, Jackson Baeth, Parker Brodina and Trason Beck all had multiple hits in the win. Drew Hofstad earned MVP honors for his hitting and base running. Trason Beck got the WOW award for his hitting and sure handed fielding. The win ensured the Firebirds a berth to the championship round on Sunday, July 30.

On Saturday July 29, DL only had one game against the Grand Forks Rebels.

The game was an offensive explosion with GF taking the win 28-15. Beau Brodina, Jackson Baeth, Cullen Schmaltz, Trason Beck, Parker Brodina, Zach Boren, Austin Kempel, Mason Palmer all collected multiple hits for the Firebirds. Jackson Baeth got the MVP for his two home runs in the game, one being a grand slam. Mason Palmer earned the WOW award for his pitching performance.

The Championship round matched up the [1] Pittsburgh All Stars vs the [4] Frontenac All Stars. The other matchup was the [2] Grand Forks Rebels vs the [3] Devils Lake Firebirds.

In the first game, Pittsburgh beat Frontenac 6-5 to earn a berth to the championship game. In the second game, the DL Firebirds and GF Rebels knew it was going to be a game to remember and the last time the teams would play each other for the year.

Both teams have played each other so many times that they know each other by first names and have become friends with each other. The Firebirds were up to bat first and didn't waste any time as Jackson Baeth homered in the first inning to take a 2-0 lead.

The big inning for DL was the fourth, as they scored five runs on four straight hits by Zach Boren, Jackson Baeth, Parker Brodina and Trason Beck.

Scoring for the Firebirds were Drew Hofstad, Beau Brodina, Zach Boren, Jackson Baeth and Parker Brodina. Jackson Baeth pitched an unbelievable game going five and two-thirds innings, striking out five. He received MVP honors for his stellar pitching and hitting. Parker Brodina got the WOW award for his batting and coming into the game to get a colossal last out to get the save.

The Championship game was set with a rematch of the DL Firebirds against the Pittsburgh All Stars. The Firebirds were up to bat and Drew Hofstad led off with a single. Beau Brodina followed him up with a base hit shot to left field and Drew Hofstad was thrown out at second. Zach Boren was up to bat and got a screaming hit that got by the left fielder for an inside the park homerun to give DL a 2-0 lead. Jackson Baeth followed up with a single. Next, Parker Brodina smacked a blast to the fence to score Jackson Baeth for a 3-0 lead. Parker Brodina started on the mound for the Firebirds and pitched a strong four innings in the game. He had to come out with his count up and Pittsburg leading 5-3. Zach Boren came in as relief and pitched great.

The Pittsburgh All Stars came out in the fifth inning and hammered the ball to take the win 13-3.

Drew Hofstad earned MVP honors going three-for-three at the plate. Zach Boren got the WOW award for his homerun.

The DL Cal Ripken baseball team finished the season as the Cal Ripken Midwest Regionals Tournament runner-up. The team consists of 9-11 year old boys and played teams that were made up of 11 year old all stars. Their hard work, dedication, perseverance and determination to never let down showed that they have a heart of a champion. The Firebirds were coached by Dustin Brodina, Travis Beck, and Chad Palmer.