Devils Lake baseball controls own tournament destiny with trip to GF Central

Sam Herder
The Devils Lake baseball team can secure a spot in the East Region Tournament with a win today at Grand Forks Central.

By Sam Herder

Journal Sports Editor

Last year, the Devils Lake baseball team missed the East Region Tournament after losing out on a three-way tiebreaker. This season, the Firebirds are hoping to control their own destiny.

It’s win and you’re in today as DL travels to Grand Forks Central for a 5 p.m. doubleheader, the first counting toward conference standings.

Lose, and the Firebirds would face a messy criteria to determine the eight teams to make the postseason tournament.

That’s because the middle pack has become jumbled in the East standings. Currently, the teams sitting in fourth through ninth place either have nine or 10 wins.

“In years past we’ve been in tie-breakers before, but it hasn’t been between the possibility of six teams,” Firebirds head coach Justin Bear said. “It will be kind of a mess. It’s based on head-to-head matchups, and then run differentials and then some other criteria. Hopefully it doesn’t get to that. We just plan on winning (today) and punching our own ticket. That’s what I’ve been telling the boys all year long, ‘Let’s take care of our own business and not rely on anyone else.’”

The Firebirds are in sixth place with a 10-9 record. Grand Forks Central is eighth with a 9-10 record.

Ninth place Fargo South didn’t do DL any favors either, beating second place Fargo North last night to improve to 10-10. If the Bruins would have lost, the Firebirds would remain in the top eight no matter today’s outcome.

Now, a win seals the deal. A loss would turn to a run differential with Central.

Momentum, though, is on DL’s side.

The Firebirds have won seven of their last nine games, including a 6-5 win against third place West Fargo on Tuesday.

DL played Central on April 21, beating the Knights 15-10 and 10-5.

“They are an up-and-down team,” Bear said. “They are beating the better teams in the East. Other times, they have dropped games to some teams we have beaten or swept. When they’re on, they are an awfully tough team.”

Even with the circumstances, the Firebirds plan to go into the game just like they have any other game during their final push in the last few weeks of the regular season.

“The kids have been stepping up on their own without having to get too amped up,” Bear said. “Sometimes if you put too much pressure on, at times they have a tendency to not perform the way you want them to. We’re going about our business and preparing the same as we always have.”