FAIRMONT - Fairmont senior right-hander Bryce Holm might have started a new pre-game ritual on Monday.
"An apple a day helps keep walks away," Holm said after polishing off an apple as a snack prior to taking the mound against Worthington in Game 1 of a split baseball doubleheader at Herb Wolf Field in Fairmont.
Holm proved his improvised proverb by striking out eight without issuing a walk in firing a five-hitter over 6 2/3 innings to engineer the Class AA, No. 3-ranked Cardinals' opening 6-1 victory over the Worthington Trojans.
LOOSE CAROM — Fairmont runner Jay Ruen dives safely back into first base on a pickoff attempt as New Ulm first baseman Tyler Dittrich corrals the loose carom during South Central Conference baseball action Monday night at Herb Wolf Field in Fairmont. (Photo by Leanna Becker)
Sophomore right-hander Spencer Chirpich then stepped to the hill in Fairmont's nightcap against the No. 9-ranked New Ulm Eagles and duplicated Holm's performance - without eating an apple.
Chirpich struck out three and did not issue a walk in hurling a five-hit complete-game gem to steer the Cardinals to a 5-1 South Central Conference triumph over the Eagles.
"We received two outstanding pitching performances against a pair of quality sectional opponents today," said Fairmont mentor Todd Sukalski, whose lineup improved to 6-0 overall and 2-0 in the SCC with the twinbill sweep. "I thought we had some really good at-bats against a quality pitcher in (New Ulm right-hander Chase) Meyer."
A rare Eagle miscue on Luke Becker's grounder with one out in the bottom of the first inning opened a narrow window of opportunity for the Cardinals in Game 2.
Levi Becker, who went 4-for-6 during the two-game span, lined a single back through the box before Mitch Pfingsten blooped an RBI single into shallow left to plate Luke Becker for an early 1-0 lead.
With Chirpich and Meyer holding their respective opposing offenses in check through the first three frames, New Ulm matched Fairmont's solo run with one of its own during the top of the fourth.
Cole Dulas legged out a leadoff infield hit, moved to second base on Grant Kannegiesser's sacrifice bunt and circled the bases on Tanner Kluis' RBI single to center to knot the game at 1-all.
Christian Petschke, however, delivered the pivotal blast to trigger the Cardinals' three-run outburst during the home half of the fifth. Petschke hammered a Meyer offering to deep left-center that Eagles centerfielder Cole Dulas nearly made a spectacular long-distance running catch on.
Josh Eversman, who was pinch-running for Petschke, reached third on the heels of Jay Ruen's infield hit before staying put when Brandon Brooks was plunked by a pitch.
Eversman scored the go-ahead run on Chirpich's RBI fielder's choice, Ruen crossed the plate on Luke Becker's sacrifice fly and Jordan Voss - running for Brooks - later came around to score on Levi Becker's RBI single for a 4-1 lead.
Fairmont added an insurance run during the sixth when Ryan Noll singled, wheeled to third on Petschke's single and scored on Ruen's RBI groundout.
Chirpich closed out the top of the seventh in a 1-2-3 fashion to seal his complete-game pitching performance.
In Monday's opener, Holm nearly notched the complete game, giving up only five hits in 6 2/3 innings before Jordan Voss recorded the final out in relief to cap a 6-1 win over Worthington.
Fairmont manufactured a solo run in the bottom of the first as Luke Becker singled with one out before eventually reaching the plate on three wild pitches.
Luke Becker and Levi Becker later singled to set the tables in the Cardinals' fourth frame before Noll delivered a clutch two-run double to deep left-center to widen the gap to 3-0.
Chirpich and Levi Becker singled and later scored in the bottom of the fifth via Pfingsten's hard-hit, two-RBI double into the right-center gap to extend the lead to 6-0.
Nathan Ray's leadoff single, a wild pitch and Tristan Soderholm's RBI single with two out in the top of the seventh caused Sukalski to use Voss in relief, and the senior right-hander got the final out for the save.
The Beckers - Luke and Levi - combined equally for four hits and four runs against the Trojans, while Levi Becker and Petschke each went 2-for-3 against the Eagles in Game 2.
Dulas and Kluis each collected two hits to top New Ulm.
Meyer allowed five earned runs on seven hits, struck out two, did not issue a walk and hit one batter in 5 1/3 innings to take the loss for the Eagles.
Fairmont (6-0, 2-0 SCC) plays host to St. James today in a 4:30 p.m. doubleheader at Herb Wolf Field. New Ulm (7-3, 4-1) travels to Waseca on Thursday. Worthington (2-2) plays host to Jackson County Central today in a 4 p.m. doubleheader.
Worth. 000 000 1 - 1 5 2
FHS 100 320 x - 6 7 1
Ryan Lee (LP), Aaron Pavelko (2), Tristan Sorenson (4), Turner Hagen (6) and Blake Rogers. Bryce Holm (WP), Jordan Voss (7, Sv) and Ryan Noll.
LOB-Fairmont 2, Worthington 6. 2B-Mitch Pfingsten (F), Ryan Noll (F).
New Ulm 000 100 0 - 1 5 1
FHS 100 031 x - 5 7 1
Chase Meyer (LP), Wyatt Peterson (6) and Grant Kannegiesser. Spencer Chirpich (WP) and Mitch Pfingsten.
LOB-Fairmont 5, New Ulm 5. 2B-Christian Petschke (F). SF-Luke Becker (F). SAC-Kannegiesser.
Cole Emler fired a one-hit complete-game shutout to power Fairmont to a 10-0, five-inning victory over Worthington during B-squad action Monday in Fairmont.
Emler, who recorded six strikeouts and issued only one walk to earn the victory, went 1-for-2 at the plate with two RBIs.
Bailey Koppen and Rodney Engstrom each went 2-for-3 with one RBI for the Cardinals, Ben Abel went 2-for-4 with two RBIs, while Parker Monsen also went 2-for-4.
Jon Dosedal went 1-for-1 with one RBI to round out the winning ways by Fairmont (4-0).
Tyler Tennyson doubled home two runs in the bottom of the seventh inning to lift Fairmont to a 10-9 comeback victory over New Ulm during C-squad action on Monday in Fairmont.
Tennyson doubled twice to produce three RBIs for the Cardinals; Nathan Gillis generated three hits, including a double; while Mark Washa collected two hits and two RBIs.
Clayton Maakestad chipped in an RBI single for Fairmont, while Kale Fritz, Carter Lloyd and Ethan Lubenow added one hit each.
Gillis gave up three runs on six hits, and struck out four in five innings of relief to earn the victory.
Fairmont (3-0) hosts St. James today.
Martin Luther/GHEC/Truman 10, Lyle/Austin Pacelli 5 - Sam Geistfeld generated three hits, three runs scored and two RBIs to power the Knights to a 10-5 nonconference victory over the Athletics on Monday in Truman.
Colton Greiner produced two RBIs behind one hit, Chandler Greier delivered one hit and scored twice, while Alex Weihe walked twice and scored two runs for ML/GHEC/Truman.
Trent Stensland started on the mound for the Knights, allowing five runs - four earned - on two hits in 4 1/3 innings to net the win. Stensland struck out eight, walked seven and hit one batter.
Greiner struck out three and gave up one hit in 1 2/3 innings of scoreless relief before Dylan Petrowiak struck out two in closing out the seventh inning for the save.
Martin Luther/GHEC/Truman (5-2, 2-1 Valley) plays host to St. Clair at 7 p.m. tonight in Truman.
Lyle/Pacelli 001 040 0 - 5 4 2
MLGHECT 100 540 x - 10 5 1
Jordan Cotter (LP), Braden Kocer (5), Ryan McConnell (5) and Drew Chapek. Trent Stensland (WP), Colton Greiner (5), Dylan Petrowiak (7, Sv) and Tristan Maday.