WINNEBAGO - Fairmont VFW Post 1222's Matt Lytle flirted with a no-hitter through 5 2/3 innings during Friday's sub-district tournament game in Winnebago.
Kolt Gorg singled with two outs in the top of the sixth inning to spoil Lytle's no-hit bid, but the Fairmont right-hander went on to hurl a three-hit complete-game gem in blanking Blue Earth Post 4580, 7-0, during 2nd District, Southwest Sub-District baseball action.
Fairmont (9-8) advances to face St. James - a 4-3 victor over New Ulm Silver - in a third-round winners-bracket game at 10 a.m. today in Blue Earth.
WHERE’S THE BALL? — Fairmont VFW Post 1222 batter Ben Abel (20) looks back as Blue Earth Post 4580 first baseman Matthew Bell leaps to snag a high throw during 2nd District, Southwest Sub-District baseball tournament action on Friday in Winnebago. Abel reached on an infield hit. (Photo by Leanna Becker)
"Matt pitched a great game for us, and our defense was phenomenal today, making every play behind him," Post 1222 mentor Don Waletich said in reference to his lineup's error-free performance. "Offensively, we got the hits when we needed them. Timely hitting and solid defense will win a lot of games for you."
After Lytle worked a scoreless top of the first on the mound, Nathan Gillis staked Fairmont to an early 2-0 edge in the home half of the frame.
Jack Waletich and Ben Abel, who each delivered multi-hit performances and scored two runs apiece, legged out back-to-back infield hits to trigger Post 1222's two-out rally. Gillis then swatted a two-run double to deep left to plate both Waletich and Abel.
Lytle then assembled an impressive string of outs - retiring 15 in a row before Gorg's infield hit during the top of the sixth - to hold Blue Earth scoreless.
Meanwhile, Fairmont combined three singles and two walks by Post 4580 starting pitcher Alan Davids to generate four runs during the bottom of the second inning to hold a 6-0 lead.
Lytle assisted his own cause by drawing a leadoff walk before courtesy runner Nate Johnson advanced to second base on Ryan Brooks' fielder's choice. Johnson motored to third when Parker Monsen's grounder was mishandled before scoring on Spencer Chirpich's sacrifice fly.
Monsen moved to second on Tyler Tennyson's single before circling the bases on Waletich's RBI single to right. Tennyson alertly scored when the throw to the plate sailed high. Abel then singled inside the right-field line to bring home Waletich for a six-run advantage.
Despite Lytle's double in the third, singles by Chirpich and Abel in the fourth, and back-to-back hits by Brooks and Monsen in the fifth, Fairmont came away empty-handed in all three frames.
Tennyson, however, legged out a high-chopped grounder to third for an infield hit to lead off Post 1222's sixth. The No. 2 batter took second on a wild pitch, alertly wheeled to third on the catcher's overthrow to the mound and scored on Waletich's sacrifice fly.
Luke Schavey added a single during Blue Earth's sixth, while Davids slugged a double in the seventh.
Lytle displayed stellar control, recording four strikeouts and issuing only one walk in seven innings of work to earn the shutout.
Davids gave up seven runs - three earned - on 12 hits, struck out three and walked one in six frames.
Blue Earth played Wells in an elimination game on Friday, but no score was available prior to press time.
BE 000 000 0 - 0 3 6
F 240 001 x - 7 12 0
Alan Davids (LP) and Kaylan Legred. Matt Lytle (WP) and Ben Abel.
LOB-Fairmont 8, Blue Earth 4. 2B-Nathan Gillis (F), Lytle (F), Davids (BE). SF-Spencer Chirpich (F), Jack Waletich (F).