The Sun Prairie Red Birds begin their 2019 Home Talent League playoff run this Sunday against the rival DeForest Demons.

The Eastern Section champions (12-4 record) earned the top seed and a first-round home game. However, with Ashley Field being readied for football season, the game will be moved to Waterloo Firemen’s Park.

The first pitch is 1 p.m.

The Red Birds return to the playoffs after a two-year hiatus. They will be trying to avoid what happened to them the last time they were in the postseason, being upset by Monona 3-2 as the top seed in 2016.

Sun Prairie led the Eastern Section from start to finish, but a late-season winning streak was needed to keep that No. 1 seed. After winning nine of their first 10 games, the Red Birds hit a slump losing three-straight to Montello, Poynette and Monona.

The Birds recovered just in time, with Sunday League wins over Rio, DeForest and Columbus.

Sun Prairie won both regular-season meetings with DeForest, a 6-5 win on May 26 and a 6-0 blanking on July 28.

Eastern Section batting champion Jack Maastricht (.500) and veteran Randy Molina (.393) lead the Red Birds offense into the postseason, while pitcher Taylor Middaugh has won his last two starts, including a complete-game shutout of the Demons (10-6) on July 28.

The Sun Prairie-DeForest winner will face the winner between No. 2 Monona (11-5) and No. 3 Montello (10-6) in the Eastern Section championship on Sunday, Aug. 18 for the right to advance to the HTL Round-Robin Championship Series.

Sun Prairie has won 13 HTL championships, second only to Middleton’s 15. The last came in 2005.

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