ST. CLOUD - The Fairmont Martins produced three victories over the weekend in St. Cloud to earn the right to play for their first Minnesota state amateur baseball championship since 1959.
Right-hander Shaun McGuire hurled a four-hit complete-game shutout to guide the Martins to a 2-0 triumph over the Bird Island Bullfrogs during Saturday's Round-of-16 game.
Left-hander Aaron Siefken then fired a five-hit complete-game gem to engineer Fairmont's 3-1 victory over the Avon Lakers during a quarterfinal contest Sunday morning.
The Martins then literally outslugged the Green Isle Irish in Sunday afternoon's state semifinal, 9-7, by pounding out 12 hits.
Adam Schmidt's pivotal three-run home run, followed two outs later by Dustin Sobolik's clutch go-ahead solo homer, triggered Fairmont's five-run bottom of the sixth that erased a 7-3 deficit.
The Martins (33-6) face Maple Lake - a 4-3 winner over Fergus Falls - for the Class 'C' state championship at noon today at Dick Putz Field in St. Cloud.
Fairmont captured the Class 'A' state amateur baseball crown in 1959.
"After pitching 18 shutout innings in the (state) tournament, Shaun McGuire wants the ball for the final game, so he'll start (on the mound) for us (today)," said Martins' player/manager Adam Schmidt.
The Martins, however, utilized their lethal lumber during their third game in two days to eliminate Green Isle.
Down 7-3 in the sixth, Scott Chirpich - who went 2-for-5 - set the offensive table by lining a leadoff double before wheeling to third on McGuire's single. Max Waletich followed with an RBI single to plate Chirpich before Adam Schmidt stepped to the batter's box with two teammates on base. Schmidt swatted a three-run round-tripper to knot the game at 7-all before Sobolik delivered another key clout with two outs. Sobolik's solo homer gave the Martins an 8-7 edge after six complete innings.
"That was unbelievable," Adam Schmidt said in reference to his round-tripper. "He (Sobolik) just hit a shot into the wind and it went out."
Jon Ellis, who went 3-for-5 with a run scored, then delivered an important insurance run during the last of the eighth. Ellis hammered his second double of the semifinal to drive in Jordan Petschke, who had reached on a single.
Petschke then relieved starter Ian Bents to open the top of the seventh and hurled three shutout innings to seal Fairmont's incredible comeback victory. Petschke allowed only one hit, struck out two and walked two.
Bents gave up seven runs - six earned - on six hits in six innings of work. He struck out two and walked two.
"When you get this far in the state tournament, every game is close, so pitching's even more important than usual. Our pitchers really did a great job for us this weekend," said Adam Schmidt, who went 2-for-4 - including a double - with a game-best four RBIs in the semifinal.
Indeed. Siefken limited Avon to one run on five hits, struck out four and walked three in nine innings of work to earn the complete-game victory on Sunday morning.
Trailing 1-0, Ian Bents triggered the Martins' comeback bid by lining a leadoff single before Alex Schmidt dropped down a sacrifice bunt to move Bents into scoring position.
Tanner Nawrocki followed with a single to put runners at the corners before Logan Peymann pinch-ran for Bents. Peymann then scored the tying run on Jon Ellis' RBI fielder's choice.
McGuire and Siefken bookended Fairmont's go-ahead run during the top of the eighth inning. McGuire singled before wheeling to third base on Max Waletich's single. One out later, Siefken singled home McGuire for a 2-1 edge.
McGuire then delivered an insurance run for the Martins during the top of the ninth. Ellis walked, took second base on a wild pitch and moved to third on Scott Chirpich's ground out. McGuire then lined an RBI single to plate Ellis for a 3-1 lead.
McGuire and Waletich each went 2-for-5, while Tanner Nawrocki went 2-for-4 to top Fairmont's 10-hit effort. Ellis, Siefken, Bents and Adam Schmidt each supplied one hit.
In Saturday's game, McGuire recorded nine strikeouts and issued only one base-on-balls in firing a four-hit complete-game shutout to pace Fairmont's 2-0 victory over Bird Island.
The Martins generated the game's only two runs during the top of the seventh inning.
Alex Schmidt drew a leadoff walk before pinch runner Logan Peymann advanced 90 feet on Tanner Nawrocki's sacrifice bunt.
One out later, Scott Chirpich drew a walk before he and Peymann each moved into scoring position via a wild pitch. McGuire walked to load the bases before Siefken was hit by a pitch to plate Peymann for a 1-0 lead.
Adam Schmidt then provided an insurance run by lining an RBI single to play Scott Chirpich for a 2-0 advantage.
Adam Schmidt went 2-for-5 and Bents went 2-for-4 to top the seven-hit effort. Ellis, McGuire and Peymann each added one hit.
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(Game 1 Sunday)
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(Game 2 Sunday)
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Maple Lake 4, Blue Earth 2 - Jeremy Schmidt fired a four-hit complete-game gem to guide the Lakers to a 4-2 victory over the Pirates during a Round-of-16 game Saturday night in St. Cloud.
Schmidt allowed two runs on four hits, struck out six and walked three in nine innings of work to earn the winning decision.
Maple Lake plated all four of its runs during the top of the sixth before Blue Earth scored both of its runs during the home half of the inning.
Cody Sukalski, who went 1-for-3 with a double, walked and eventually crossed the plate for the Pirates when Justin Schaible's infield hit was thrown away at first base. Schaible, who went 1-for-4, later scored when Aaron Wendt blasted an RBI double.
Kane Malo added a hit for Blue Earth, which ended its season with a 32-6 record.
Mitch Wurm went 3-for-4 with a double and a run scored for Maple Lake, while teammate Luke Fobb delivered a key two-run single to cap the Lakers' four-run outburst during the sixth.
Grahm Brown went 2-for-5 with one RBI and a run scored for Maple Lake.