NEW ULM - Leadoff batter Drew Pottinger and No. 9 hitter Thomas Roob bookended the Hastings VFW Post 1210 baseball team's balanced offensive attack during Thursday's first-round playoff game in New Ulm.
Pottinger and Roob equally combined to go 4-for-8, including half of Hastings' four extra-base hits, with two RBIs to pace a 7-3 triumph over Fairmont Post 1222 at Johnson Park.
Hastings (20-8) advances to face Shakopee - a 20-9 winner over Sleepy Eye - at 11 a.m. today back at Johnson Park in New Ulm.
DUST COVER — Fairmont VFW Post 1222 runner Cole Emler (left) and Hastings Post 1210 catcher Devon Reissner await the umpire’s call on a close play at the plate during Thursday’s first-round 2nd District baseball game at Johnson Park in New Ulm. Emler was ruled safe on the play. Photo by Charlie Sorrells
Fairmont (15-12) plays Sleepy Eye at 1 p.m. today in an elimination game at Mueller Park in New Ulm.
"We just stranded too many runners today, and couldn't get that key hit when we needed one," Post 1222 mentor Todd Sukalski said in reference to his team's 11 stranded runners on the game.
Hastings starting pitcher Mitch Donahoe and sure-handed shortstop Zach Benning played integral roles in preventing Fairmont from hanging a crooked number on the scoreboard.
Bailey Koppen and Cole Emler produced back-to-back hits with two outs in the home half of the second inning only to have Donahoe record one of his three strikeouts on the game to thwart the threat.
The Hastings right-handed hurler duplicated that feat in the last of the third after issuing back-to-back two-out walks to Jay Ruen and Trason Arens, only to avert damage via a strikeout.
Meanwhile, in the top of the third, Pottinger and Cody Marek delivered a pair of pivotal triples to ignite Hastings' three-run outburst. Pottinger led off with a triple before scoring on Michael Junker's RBI single.
Ruen issued a walk to Donahoe before Marek unleashed a towering two-run, two-out triple to deep center to plate Junker and courtesy runner Austin LaDoux for a 3-0 edge.
Fairmont, however, did assemble a two-out rally in the last of the fourth frame to spoil Donahoe's shutout bid. Emler singled, pinch hitter Jonathon Soucek walked and Spencer Chirpich drilled an RBI single to left to plate Emler.
Hastings recouped the solo run via a leadoff walk to Donahoe and Patrick Rough's RBI single with two out in the top of the fifth.
Ruen then answered in the home half of the inning by working out a leadoff walk, swiping second and crossing the plate on Josh Eversman's line-drive single down the third-base line. Despite allowing Eversman's RBI hit, Pottinger worked out of the first-and-second jam by recording two of his four strikeouts in relief.
Roob lined a leadoff double and later scored by beating the throw to the plate on Junker's RBI fielder's choice in the Hastings' sixth.
Chirpich walked and later crossed the plate when Ruen's comebacker was thrown away at second base in the home half of the sixth.
Roob and Pottinger produced an RBI single and a sacrifice fly, respectively, to generate two insurance runs for Post 1210 during the top of the seventh.
Pottinger worked a 1-2-3 bottom of the seventh to earn the save for Hastings. Pottinger gave up one unearned run on one hit, fanned four and walked two in closing the final 2 2/3 innings.
Donahoe notched the victory by giving up two runs - one earned - on five hits, struck out three, walked five and hit one batter in 4 1/3 innings.
Ruen allowed seven runs on 11 hits, walked five, hit one batter and struck out four in seven innings of work.
Emler went 2-for-4 to top Post 1222.
HST 003 011 2 - 7 11 2
FMT 000 111 0 - 3 6 1
Mitch Donahoe (WP), Drew Pottinger (5, Sv) and Devon Reissner. Jay Ruen (LP) and Ben Abel.
LOB-Fairmont 11; Hastings 9. 2B-Reissner (H) and Thomas Roob (H). 3B-D. Pottinger (H) and Cody Marek (H). SF-D. Pottinger (H). SAC-Reissner (H).