Devils Lake ignites flame of optimism on Senior/Parent Night against Grand Forks Central

John B. Crane
Devils Lake Journal

DEVILS LAKE – The Devils Lake Firebirds looked to keep it simple when they took the mound on May 17: do whatever it takes to win. Most of all, on Senior/Parent Night. 

This simple – not to mention common sense – statement might seem almost too straightforward. Digging deeper, however, illustrated more intricate trends the team was contending with when they took on Grand Forks Central Tuesday evening. More importantly, it had to do with Devils Lake’s record at home – their first two contests at Roosevelt Park Legion Field saw the Firebirds drop both against West Fargo Sheyenne by a 17-3 combined score on May 6 (11-3 and 6-0 in five innings, respectively). However, their following two home bouts against Fargo Davies proved to blossom better fruit in the Firebirds’ favor – the latter beat the former both times on May 7 (6-3 and 6-0 in five innings, respectively). 

Senior Caleb Schneider (left) was one of five Devils Lake seniors honored on Senior/Parent Night on May 17.

Devils Lake (6-6, 4-6) played more like their two more recent home games as they routed Grand Forks Central, 13-1, in five innings Tuesday evening. 

Although moving runners over might have been an issue in previous games, it was anything but a problem for the Firebirds Tuesday evening. Devils Lake, led by their top-three hitting tandem in Parker Swanson, Caleb Schneider and Jackson Baeth, helped provide a base for what batters underneath them would see against Grand Forks Central starting pitcher Chanceler Colgrove. 

Although Colgrove mitigated a Schneider single and two stolen bases in the first inning, the Firebirds started to pick up on Colgrove’s control issues. In what amounted to a bat-around, the Firebirds sent 14 batters to the plate and scored eight runs in the second inning off of five singles and four hit-by-pitches. After knocking out Colgrove in the second, the Firebirds followed up the eight-run second with a five-run third off Jack Simmers. 

Devils Lake head coach Brent Luehring attributed the success at the plate to the emphasis on prioritizing the details. 

“To be honest, the last week-and-a-half, we really struggled to get guys in with second and third,” Luehring said. “It was nice to see us finally…we actually did the little things. I have been talking to these guys about taking a bean, doing whatever you can with two strikes to find a way to get on. We took in all four of our beans in our one inning, and they all scored, so the little things like that are the difference, truthfully.” 

Of course, a pair of high-scoring innings didn’t make Schneider’s job on the mound any easier. At least, not in staying composed and remaining on-point on a pitch-by-pitch basis. 

Not a problem for the senior, however. Schneider – who collected two hits and drove in a run with the lumber – followed up the high-scoring affairs with a shutdown inning in the third inning. While Schneider allowed one run to cross the plate in the fourth inning, Schneider closed out the fifth inning with little issue and finished the five-inning complete game. 

“Coach Luehring said stay warm, and, as a pitcher, it is hard to come back from those long innings, but I mean, I found my groove right away warming up, and I trust my catcher [Hayden Hofstad], and he trusts me,” Schneider said. “I trust the eight guys that are going to throw the ball, so it was easy to get back into a rhythm.” 

Schneider finished the outing with three hits allowed, one run (one earned) conceded, two walks and four strikeouts on 76 pitches (48 strikes). After conceding four earned runs via five walks against Fargo North on May 10, Schneider considered the May 17 outing to be an improvement. 

Devils Lake pitcher Caleb Schneider limited Grand Forks Central to one run on Senior/Parent Night on May 17.

“I can now trust my stuff,” Schneider said. “Last week against North [Fargo], I really didn’t have a feel for my fastball. Tonight, I did, and I have all that confidence now when we make EDC [Eastern Dakota Conference], so I can pitch seven innings.” 

To Luehring, the game result could not have gone any better. From the post-game senior and parent festivities to the optimism gained from the win, Luehring believes his team will stick to a straightforward message. 

The message remains the same as it was prior to the game: do whatever it takes to win. 

“I wish I could say is that it’s because we have practiced on this diamond a lot, but that’s not the accurate thing,” Luehring said. “I don’t know. It’s just when you play at home, especially on senior night for these guys, just a little extra, and any time you can sleep in your own bed, get up in the morning, go to school with the same routine [and] come here, it seems like you end up playing pretty well and competing.” 

Game breakdown: 

GFC: 0 0 0 1 0: 1 3 2 

DVL: 0 8 5 0 x: 13 11 0 

Standout stats: 

- Grand Forks Central: 

    Pitching: 

    - Chanceler Colgrove: L, 1.2 IP, 8 R, 5 ER, 0 BB, 4 K, 58 P (37 S) 

    - Jack Simmers: 2.1 IP, 5 R, 3 ER, 3 BB, 2 K, 59 P (32 S) 

    Hitting: 

    - Chanceler Colgrove: 1-2 (1 2B), 1 RBI, 1 K 

- Devils Lake: 

    Pitching: 

    - Caleb Schneider: W, CG, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 4 K, 76 P (48 S) 

    Hitting: 

    - Caleb Schneider: 2-3, 1 RBI, 2 SB 

    - Jackson Baeth: 1-3, 2 R, 2 RBI, 1 BB 

    - Beau Brodina: 1-2, 2 R, 2 RBI, 1 BB, 1 K 

    - Parker Brodina: 2-2 (1 2B), 2 R, 3 RBI, 2 SB 

John Crane is a sports/general assignment reporter for the Devils Lake Journal. Feel free to contact John via work phone (701-922-1372), cell phone (701-230-4339), email (jcrane@gannett.com) or Twitter (@johncranesports) with any story ideas.