Baseball is a game of numbers where consistency is the key to success.
There were none more consistent than Levi Becker and Spencer Chirpich, who each played large roles in helping guide the Fairmont Cardinals to a fourth-place finish at the Minnesota Class AA state baseball tournament this spring.
Levi Becker, an all-South Central Conference selection, led Fairmont with a .378 batting average in 98 at-bats to go with a .490 slugging percentage.
PLAYER OF THE YEAR - Fairmont freshman right-hander Spencer Chirpich checks his catcher’s signs before delivering a pitch during the Class AA state baseball tournament’s quarterfinal game June 14 at Dick Putz Field in St. Cloud
He also had a team-leading 37 hits, including a team-best seven doubles and two triples, while collecting a best 21 RBIs.
The all-Section 3AA selection had a .439 on-base percentage and went a perfect 7-for-7 in stolen bases en route to scoring 25 runs.
"Levi was our leading hitter and played all nine positions for us. He did whatever the team needed him to do to help us win games," said Fairmont head coach Todd Sukalski.
The versatile junior was a solid contributer from every position, including the mound.
Becker pitched his way to a 3-0 record, including a four-inning relief effort in the Section 3AA championship game to earn the win during the Cardinals' 8-3 victory over New Ulm.
The right-hander posted an 0.44 ERA and struck out 10 in 16 innings of work.
"Probably the most important game for us was the four innings he pitched in the section championship - the second New Ulm game. If he doesn't come in and pitch that game, I don't think we make it to state," said Sukalski.
Chirpich also was a mainstay in the Cardinal lineup. The freshman phenom became the first-ever Fairmont freshman to earn Class AA all-state tournament team honors.
The all-Section 3AA selection had a team-leading 103 at-bats, to go with 34 hits, 18 RBIs and .330 batting average.
The all-SCC selection had a .369 on-base percentage, stole four bases and scored 26 runs during his first varsity season.
When Chirpich wasn't holding down the shortstop position, he was compiling an 8-1 record from the mound, including 42 strikeouts in 54 1/3 innings.
Chirpich, who generated a 1.67 ERA and a team-leading three saves, took the win in the first match-up of the section championship, pitching seven innings to earn the victory over New Ulm.
The freshman right-hander also earned the lone win for Fairmont in the state tournament, pitching a five-hit complete-game to pace a 3-2 victory over Roseau in the quarterfinals.
"Every big game we had, Spencer pitched it. Each of the teams he faced was ranked and he beat them," said Sukalski. "He had pretty good velocity and is not afraid to challenge hitters, which really helps him be a good pitcher."
Levi Becker and Chirpich's consistent play helped each player garner the 2012 Sentinel All-Area co-baseball player of the year honor.
Here's a look at the rest of the 2012 Sentinel All-Area baseball team.
Luke Becker (Fairmont) - The Fairmont sophomore switch-hitter earned his place as the lead-off man of the Cardinal lineup with a .418 on-base percentage and a .292 batting average.
Becker's ability to hit from both sides of the plate challenged opposing pitchers, leading him to a tie for a team-most 17 walks, along with 26 hits, including four doubles and two triples.
The all-SCC selection collected 13 RBIs, stole six bases and scored 23 runs for the Cardinals.
Luke Becker was a solid second baseman defensively, making just three errors on the season. On the mound, the right-hander pitched to a 6-1 record with a 1.98 ERA in 56 2/3 innings of work.
For his efforts, Becker earned a crucial save in the first game of the section championship against New Ulm to help guide the Cardinals to the state tournament.
Brett Deitering (North Union) - The senior outfielder scored a team-high 38 runs to go with 33 hits to help guide the Warrior offense.
The all-Corn Belt Conference selection hit .320 with seven doubles, three triples and one homer to produce 29 RBIs and a .476 slugging percentage.
Deitering reach base at a .470 clip and stole 20 bases to lead the team.
Sawyer Doocy (North Union) - The two-time All-Area choice led the Warriors to the Iowa Class 2A, District 2 championship game, topping the team both on offense and defense.
The all-Corn Belt Conference first-team selection hit for a team-best .404 average with a .673 slugging average, collecting 43 RBIs on 42 hits to lead the team. He hit 17 doubles, one triple and three home runs on his way to scoring 29 runs.
The North Union junior right-hander compiled a 7-3 record, including a first-round playoff win over West Bend-Mallard.
Doocy hurled a team-leading 72 innings, allowing 36 runs and 52 hits on his way to a 2.72 ERA and a team-best 113 strikeouts on the summer.
Doocy showed his versatility by playing a majority of infield positions, filling in wherever North Union needed him to, in order to stay in the lineup.
Jake Faber (Martin County West) - The Mavericks' sophomore played nearly every position on the field and made just four errors all season, with a fielding percentage of .862.
The all-Valley Conference choice batted .417, including three doubles, and collected 10 RBIs on the season.
With an on-base percentage of .488 and a slugging percentage of .500, he also stole seven bases.
David Franta (Blue Earth Area) - The sophomore shortstop hit for a .338 average to lead the Bucs in his 74 at-bats. Franta also had a team-leading 25 hits, including seven doubles and a triple.
WIth his team-leading hits, the all-SCC selection collected 11 RBIs and scored 18 runs for the Bucs.
Franta also pitched his way to a 3-0 record in 15 1/3 innings with a 2.92 ERA. He allowed six runs on 14 hits and struck out 10.
Carter Hanson (Blue Earth Area) - The junior catcher batted .310 behind 18 hits, including five doubles, on the season.
Hanson also collected 11 RBIs and scored 13 runs for Blue Earth Area.
The all-conference selection pitched 2 2/3 innings, allowing 10 runs on seven hits.
For a majority of the games, Hanson was the director behind the dish, calling the game for Blue Earth Area's pitchers.
Bryce Holm (Fairmont) - The junior right-hander featured the second-best ERA on the team with a 1.34, along with a 4-2 record, to help garner all-SCC honors.
In 41 2/3 innings on the mound, Holm allowed 13 runs on 36 hits and struck out a team-best 45 batters to help guide the Cardinals to the state tournament for the third straight season.
Every time Holm stepped to the mound, he gave Fairmont the opportunity to win, pitching two shutouts on the season.
At the plate, Holm had a .278 batting average with 15 hits, including three doubles and 10 RBIs.
With an on-base percentage of .349, Holm wheeled to steal six bases and scored 15 runs to aid Fairmont's offense.
Austin Krumwiede (Martin County West) - The speedy shortstop stole 10 bases for the Mavericks with an on-base percentage of .452 to help guide Martin County West's offense.
The all-Valley Conference choice posted a .417 batting average with a .484 slugging percentage, collecting nine RBIs and hitting three doubles.
At shortstop, he made just seven errors all season, with a fielding average of .851.
When Krumwiede wasn't on the left side of the infield, he was taking care of things on the mound.
Krumwiede compiled a 2-2 record, allowing 13 earned runs in 28 1/3 innings for a 3.21 ERA to lead the team.
Brandyn Olsen (Blue Earth Area) - The junior right-hander pitched a team-best 45 1/3 innings en route to a 3-5 record and a 3.39 ERA to lead the Bucs from the mound.
The all-conference hurler recorded 49 strikeouts and allowed 36 runs on the hill.
Offensively, Olsen had a team-high eight doubles among his 20 hits en route to a .333 average. He collected 13 RBIs and scored 12 runs.
Tony Payne (Martin Luther/Granada-Huntley-East Chain/Truman) - The excellent eighth-grader from St. Paul Lutheran in Truman hit .458 and collected 20 RBIs to top the Knights offense this season.
The all-Valley Conference player hit six doubles and scored nine runs and only struck out once in 44 at-bats to add to the offensive production.
On the mound, the eighth-grader pitched six innings, earning three saves and allowed one run, giving up two hits and striking out two in his appearances.
Dylan Petrowiak (Martin Luther/Granada-Huntley-East Chain/Truman) - The all-Valley Conference player took the mound and earned a 2-0 record, along with two saves and gave up one earned run for the Knights.
Striking out 16 and allowing seven hits helped Petrowiak to guide the Knights defense to a 5-2 record in the conference.
Offensively, Petrowiak hit .452, including three triples and 10 doubles, collecting 20 RBIs and scoring nine runs to lead the Knights.
Petrowiak also had a team-leading eight stolen bases for ML/GHEC/Truman.
Mitch Pfingsten (Fairmont) - The anchor behind the plate called nearly every game and caught six runners stealing with a .545 percentage to garner all-area honors.
The all-Section 3AA selection hit for a .319 average with 23 hits in his 72 at-bats, including two doubles, a triple and one of Fairmont's two home runs on the season.
His homer came at a pivotal part of the first round of a section playoff game against Blue Earth Area. With the Cardinals trailing 4-2, Pfingsten hit a solo shot to lead off the fourth inning, putting Fairmont within a run of the Bucs.
Pfingsten recorded a team-best on-base percentage of .456 with the help of 17 walks.
The left-handed hitting Pfingsten also had a slugging percentage of .417, while collecting 14 RBIs and scoring two runs for the fourth-place state finishers.
Jonah Pirsig (Blue Earth Area ) - The future University of Minnesota Gopher football player hit for .323 with three home runs and collected 20 RBIs to propel the Bucs offense.
Pirsig's 20 hits, including three doubles, helped him score 11 runs for Blue Earth Area.
On the mound, the 6-foot-9 senior right-hander threw 15 1/3 innings, allowing 34 hits and striking out 20 on his way to a 1-3 record.
Mitch Sitzmann (Martin County West) - The junior centerfielder hit two triples and one double, along with collecting 14 RBIs, for the Mavericks this spring.
With a .306 batting average in 36 at-bats, and a .333 slugging percentage, Sitzmann did a great deal to help his team score runs.
The all-Valley Conference selection got on base at a .432 clip, stealing a team-high 14 bases and scoring two runs against league opponents.
In the field, Sitzmann made one error all season, and had a fielding average of .963.
Jeremy Smith (Martin Luther/Granada-Huntley-East Chain/Truman) - The junior produced a .483 batting average, including seven doubles and 16 RBIs, to pace the Knights in 2012.
The all-Valley Conference selection scored 12 runs to add to the offensive production.
In 21 1/3 innings, the left-hander took an 0-2 record, allowing 24 hits and 23 runs, striking out 19 and walking 11 as a starting pitcher.
Brett Thackery (North Union) - The all-Corn Belt Conference selection led North Union with a 7-1 record on the mound, pitching 47 2/3 innings.
The senior left-hander struck out 45 batters and allowed 43 hits with an ERA of 2.06.
Offensively, Thackery got a hit 32 times, including seven doubles, and scored 28 runs for North Union during the season.
With a .320 batting average and a .470 on base percentage, Thackery collected 20 RBIs and swiped 11 bases for the Warriors.