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DREAM COME TRUE: Irey signs professional contract with RedHawks

Former University of Jamestown baseball player Quinn Irey attempts to tag Kansas City T-Bones outfielder Keith Curcio Sunday afternoon at Newman Outdoor Field during a Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks game. Photo by Laurel Hoseth / Fargo-Moorehead Red Hawks

Quinn Irey had quite the professional baseball debut last Saturday night for the Fargo-Moorhead Redhawks.

Seven hours after signing his professional contract June 16, the former University of Jamestown baseball player was standing at second base as the game-winning run in the eighth inning for his new club. Irey went to break a 4-4 between the RedHawks and the Kansas City T-Bones, scoring on an error.

"That was something I talked about with our third base coach, Chris Coste, that I might have to go in and pinch run if it came down to that situation," said Irey, who just helped the Jimmies to 45 wins this past spring during his senior season at backstop for Jamestown.

But Irey's exciting Saturday at Newman Outdoor Field in Fargo didn't stop there. RedHawk third baseman Tommy Mendonca pulled his hamstring in the ninth inning, forcing first baseman Leobaldo Pina to shift over to third and Irey was inserted in at first, a position he hasn't played since high school.

Irey was part of a groundout to the pitcher and handled a grounder that he tossed over to pitcher Randy McCurry to secure the 5-4 victory for the RedHawks.

"Quinn is a difference maker behind the plate, but he's an athlete," said Jimmie baseball coach Tom Hager about his former catcher. "If you go back to his high school days he played a bunch of positions and was a heck of a hockey player."

Irey played first base in Sunday's rubber match, as the RedHawks won the weekend series with a 8-6 victory.

"I'm not sure if it'll be an everyday thing," Irey said about his role at first base. "The starting catcher, Charlie Valerio, hurt his wrist and once Tommy Mendonca gets healthy it might change things.

"My goal is to do whatever I can to help the team win. I want to keep playing much as I can whether that's first base or catcher."

Irey is the 10th Jimmie to sign a professional contract during Hager's 19-year tenure as UJ's head baseball coach. The Bismarck native is also the fourth Jimmie to play for the RedHawks.

Marcus Blackmon Jr. (2014-15), another former Jimmie catcher, currently plays professionally for the Trois-Rivieres Aigles in Quebec, Canada.

"I think that the RedHawks recognize that we're a talented local program and I think proximity doesn't hurt either," Hager said.

According to Irey and Hager, the RedHawks were in contact with the former Jimmie standout just before the MLB draft in early June. With only four infielders on the roster and F-M missing a catcher, the RedHawks decided to make the signing.

"Quinn is such an intelligent baseball player," Hager said. "He understands the game and had a chance to play in collegiate summer baseball (Bismarck Larks) last year and at the University of Jamestown.

"His defensive ability behind the plate is outstanding and hopefully he'll be able to continue that with the RedHawks."

Irey said the RedHawks didn't specify if the contract will go through the final game on Sept. 3 or not. The team also hasn't told him where or how much he will play going forward.

"They haven't told me a whole lot about where I'm playing," Irey said. "I'm taking it day by day and I'm hoping to see my name in the starting lineup."

Irey is planning on finishing up his student-teaching in the Fargo-Moorhead area this fall but that might be put on hold if his baseball career continues.

"I'm going to see how long I can play baseball," Irey said. "I'll go with the flow and if teams want to sign me I would keep playing."

Mitchell Johnson

Hometown: Enumclaw, WA; College: Central Washington University

(360) 918-1853