WINNEBAGO - The Class AA, No. 5-ranked Fairmont baseball lineup broke out of its two-game offensive doldrums with a vengeance.
The Cardinals, who plated just two runs during a doubleheader split with St. James on Tuesday, pounded out 23 hits to produce 24 runs en route to a South Central Conference twinbill sweep over the Blue Earth Area Bucs on Thursday in Winnebago.
Ryan Noll and Luke Becker each went 3-for-4 for a combined six RBIs to ignite Fairmont's opening 10-3 victory before Levi Becker went 3-for-3 with a three-run homer and a game-best five RBIs to power the Cardinals' 14-4, five-inning triumph in the nightcap.
HIGH-LOW PLAY — Fairmont runner Christian Petschke (24) slides toward the plate as Blue Earth Area catcher Carter Hanson leaps to snag a high throw during South Central Conference baseball action Thursday night in Winnebago. Petschke was safe on the play. (Photo by Leanna Becker)
"It was good to see us swing the bats well again today," said Fairmont head coach Todd Sukalski. "I got a little nervous in the first inning of the second game when we trailed by three runs right away, but our guys answered right away with five runs in our half.
"Levi's three-run home run really changed the momentum of that game in a hurry."
Down 3-0, Fairmont - who was the home team in Game 2 - had its first two hitters reach base to bring Levi Becker to the batter's box. Levi Becker cranked a Dallas Barslou offering over the center-field fence to plate Spencer Chirpich, who had reached on a Buc error, and Luke Becker, who had legged out a perfectly-placed bunt hit.
Mitch Pfingsten, who went 3-for-3 in Game 2, singled before courtesy runner Josh Eversman swiped second base and advanced to third on a throwing error. Noll then hit into a fielder's choice to produce the fifth of his six RBIs on the doubleheader.
Christian Petschke, who had reached on a two-out error, later slid home with the Cardinals' fifth run when Jay Ruen slammed an RBI double to the right-center gap for a 5-3 edge.
David Franta then delivered an RBI single for the Bucs during the top of the second frame before Noll lofted a sacrifice fly on the heels of singles by Luke Becker and Pfingsten in the home half to keep the Cardinals ahead 6-4.
After Petschke stepped to the mound to blank Blue Earth Area during the top of the third, Brandon Brooks' double triggered a four-run Fairmont outburst with two out in the home half.
Chirpich and Luke Becker each walked to load the bases for Levi Becker, who quickly unloaded them with a two-run single up the middle.
The Becker brothers executed a double steal from the corners to plate another run before Pfingsten lined an RBI double to deep right for a 10-4 lead.
Levi Becker then triggered the Cardinals' four-run fifth frame by lining a leadoff single to left before reaching third on back-to-back walks to Pfingsten and Noll.
Bryce Holm drilled an RBI single down the third base line, Petschke plated another run with a fielder's choice before Trason Arens ended Game 2 via the 10-run rule by delivering a clutch two-run, pinch-hit single to right.
In the opener, Noll and Holm set the early scoring tone by pounding out a two-run single and an RBI double, respectively, to build a 3-0 lead after the top of the first.
But the hits did not stop there as Ruen doubled and scored on Brooks' RBI single to open the second. Chirpich reached on an error before Luke Becker unloaded a two-run triple to deep left field. Luke Becker later crossed the plate on Pfingsten's bloop RBI single to center.
Holding a 7-0 lead, Fairmont starting pitcher Levi Becker limited Blue Earth Area to Christian Haugh's one-out double in the fourth before Seth Anderson spoiled the Cardinals' shutout bid in the fifth.
Brandyn Olsen, who had singled, scored when Anderson smacked a two-run homer over the fence in left-center. Anderson later scored when Carter Hanson's flyball was mishandled and Haugh followed with an RBI double to deep left.
Following back-to-back Buc errors with two out in the top of the fourth, Noll unleashed a towering two-run double to extend the Cardinals' lead to 9-3.
Fairmont tacked on a solo run in seventh when Noll singled and courtesy runner Josh Eversman eventually scored on Petschke's RBI single.
Petschke then worked a four-batter seventh inning to preserve Levi Becker's winning pitching performance. Becker allowed three runs - two earned - on five hits, struck out three and walked four in six frames to net the victory.
Brandyn Olsen allowed 10 runs - six earned - on 11 hits, struck out six and walked two in seven innings of work to take the Game 1 loss for Blue Earth Area.
Barslou took the loss in Game 2, giving up 10 runs - five earned - on nine hits, while striking out one and walking three in three innings of work for the Bucs.
Ruen started on the hill and allowed four runs - all unearned - on three hits, walked two and fanned one in two innings of work.
Petschke struck out three, walked one, hit one batter and gave up two hits in three innings of scoreless relief to net the Game 2 victory.
Luke Becker went a combined 5-for-7 with five runs scored and two RBIs for Fairmont, while Pfingsten went 4-for-7 with two RBIs.
Haugh went a combined 2-for-5 with two RBIs, while Seth Anderson added two RBIs via his Game 1 homer.
Fairmont (9-1, 5-1 SCC) travels to Marshall on Saturday for a rescheduled 11 a.m. non-league game. Blue Earth Area (3-7, 2-5) plays host to Waterville-Elysian-Morristown at 11 a.m. Saturday.
FHS 340 200 1 - 10 11 1
BEA 000 030 0 - 3 5 4
Levi Becker (WP), Christian Petschke (7) and Ryan Noll. Brandyn Olsen (LP) and Carter Hanson.
LOB-Fairmont 5, B.E. Area 8. 2B-Christian Haugh (BEA) 2, Noll (F), Bryce Holm (F), Jay Ruen (F). 3B-Luke Becker (F). HR-Seth Anderson (BEA).
BEA 310 00 - 4 5 5
FHS 514 04 - 14 12 4
Winning run scored with one out in the bottom of the fifth inning.
Dallas Barslou (LP), Austin Gustafson (4), Carter Hanson (5) and Hanson, Calvin Sanders (4). Jay Ruen, Christian Petschke (3, WP) and Pfingsten.
LOB-Fairmont 8, B.E. Area 7. 2B-Pfingsten (F), Ruen (F), Brandon Brooks (F), Barslou (BEA). HR-Levi Becker (F). SF-Noll (F), Haugh (BEA).
Mankato Loyola 9, Martin Luther/ Granada-Huntley-East Chain/Truman 5 - The Crusaders scored five runs in the top of the third inning to surpass the Knights 9-5 in a Valley Conference game on Thursday in Truman.
Josh Wolter recorded a two-run home run to complement a double for two of his three hits on the game for ML/GHEC/Truman. Wolter also scored three runs, while teammate Colton Greiner added two hits for the Knights.
Dustin DeBell tallied two RBIs on one hit, while Trent Stensland recorded a sacrifice fly for ML/GHEC/Truman.
Evan Ellingworth, Andrew Sweere and Mark Kortuem each scored a pair of runs to lead the Crusaders. Ellingworth and Sweere each had two hits and drove in an RBI, while Kortuem walked twice.
Shane Sellner pitched six innings, giving up five runs on six hits, striking out 10 and walking two to earn the win for the Crusaders.
John Fink came in for the final inning of relief, striking out and walking one.
Greiner pitched six innings allowing seven runs - four earned - on six hits, striking out four and walking one.
Dylan Petrowiak pitched the final inning in relief, allowing two runs on two hits for the Knights.
Martin Luther/Granada-Huntley-East Chain/Truman (6-3, 2-2 Valley) travels to St. James for a nonconference doubleheader at 4:30 p.m. today.
Loyola 005 002 2 - 9 8 2
MLGHECT 001 022 0 - 5 6 4
Shane Sellner (WP), John Fink (7) and Blake Matuska, Sellner (7). Greiner (LP), Dylan Petrowiak (7) and Tristan Maday.