FAIRMONT - Don Waletich flashed the sign from the third base coach's box, and No. 9 batter Parker Monsen delivered the game-winning RBI double in the bottom of the seventh inning on Monday night.
Monsen's hit-and-run, outfield gap-finding hit plated Nate Johnson with the decisive run to fuel the Fairmont VFW Post 1222 baseball team's 6-5 comeback victory over New Ulm Silver at Herb Wolf Field.
"I thought it couldn't hurt to put our runners (Johnson and Ryan Brooks) in motion, and Parker executed the hit-and-run (strategy) perfectly," said Waletich. "I also thought our guys did a nice job of battling back in the latter innings to keep the game close."
BEATING THE THROW — Fairmont VFW Post 1222 batter Ben Abel (right) slides safely into third base with a triple, ahead of the throw to New Ulm Silver third baseman E.J. Berdan, during third-inning baseball action on Monday night at Herb Wolf Field in Fairmont. (Photo by Leanna Becker)
No. 3 batter Ben Abel, who delivered a 3-for-4 offensive effort, did exactly that for Fairmont in both the bottom of the fourth and sixth innings. Abel lined an RBI single to left to plate Cole Emler to knot the score at 4-all in the last of the fourth. Abel then followed back-to-back, one-out singles by Emler and Tyler Tennyson with another RBI single to left to tie the game at 5-all in the sixth.
Johnson, who pitched three solid innings of relief, then assisted his own cause on the mound by lining a leadoff single during Post 1222's seventh at-bat. Johnson stole second with one out before staying put when Brooks was plunked with a Spencer Landsteiner pitch.
Landsteiner exited the hill in favor of Michael Skillings, and Monsen smacked an extra-base hit to the right-center gap to bring home Johnson with the game-winning run and swing the victorious pitching decision in Johnson's direction.
Johnson allowed one run on two hits, struck out two, walked one and hit two batters in closing out the final three frames to earn the win.
New Ulm Silver, however, combined six hits off of Fairmont starting pitcher Nathan Gillis during the first two innings to build an early 3-0 edge before Fairmont bounced back to keep within striking distance.
Alex Fischer set the tone for Silver by hammering a triple into the right-field corner to lead off the game. Fischer later scored on Cooper Forbrook's RBI single.
Fischer and Forbrook later played key roles during New Ulm's two-run second at-bat to widen the visitors' lead to 3-0. Conner Giefer singled with one out before Adrean Castillo walked.
Fischer then lofted a sky-high single into no man's land behind third base and inside the left-field line to load the bases. Forbrook, who went 3-for-3, then drilled a two-run single to right.
Abel, however, revitalized the Post 1222 bats by scorching a sinking triple with one out during the bottom of the third. Abel crossed the plate on Gillis' RBI single to center before Gillis strolled to third base when Clayton Maakestad's grounder was thrown away at second base. Gillis later scored on Johnson's sacrifice fly to slice Fairmont's deficit to 3-2.
Forbrook then restored New Ulm's two-run margin by depositing a single into center during the top of the fourth. Courtesy runner Wyatt Oelberg later wheeled to third base on Alex Guggisberg's two-out double down the first-base line before scoring on an error.
Brooks then singled, stole second and moved to third on Monsen's sacrifice bunt to open the home half of the fourth. Emler singled home Brooks before swiping second base and taking third on the overthrow. Emler then scored on Abel's RBI single to tie the game at 4-all.
Once again, Forbrook proved Silver's catalyst by drawing a leadoff walk in the top of the sixth, stole second, advanced 90 feet on Skillings' single and crossed the plate on Guggisberg's sacrifice fly for a 5-4 edge.
Emler, Tennyson and Abel produced consecutive singles in the last of the sixth to even the score again.
Landsteiner allowed two runs on four hits, struck out two and hit one batter in 2 1/3 innings of relief for New Ulm to take the loss.
Gillis allowed four runs - three earned - on nine hits in four innings for Fairmont. The right-hander struck out six and walked three to receive no decision.
Emler and Tennyson each collected two hits for Fairmont, while Fischer, Skillings and Giefer each delivered two hits apiece for New Ulm.
Fairmont (6-6) hosts Mapleton at 6 p.m. Wednesday at Herb Wolf Field.
New Ulm 120 101 0 - 5 11 5
Fairmont 002 201 1 - 6 11 3
Game-winning run scored with one out in the bottom of the seventh inning.
Cooper Forbrook, Spencer Landsteiner (5, LP), Michael Skillings (7) and Alex Fischer, Alex Guggisberg (5), Fischer (7). Nathan Gillis, Nate Johnson (5, WP) and Ben Abel.
LOB-Fairmont 10; New Ulm 11. 2B-Parker Monsen (F), Guggisberg (NU). 3B-Abel (F), Fischer (NU). SF-Johnson (F), Guggisberg (NU). SAC-Monsen (F), Conner Giefer (NU).