FAIRMONT - The Fairmont Martins guaranteed themselves a return trip to the Minnesota Class 'C' state amateur baseball tournament.
Scott Chirpich and Adam Schmidt generated a combined six RBIs behind two hits apiece to guide the Martins to a 15-3, seven-inning triumph over the Hadley Buttermakers on Sunday at Herb Wolf Field in Fairmont.
Fairmont (23-4) clinched its best-of-3 regional semifinal series with Hadley, 2-1, via the early exit after losing Game 2 by a 9-8 decision Saturday in Hadley.
HOOK SLIDE — Fairmont Martins runner Scott Chirpich (right) makes a head-first hook slide to beat the throw to Hadley Buttermakers catcher Trent Carlson on Shaun McGuire’s sacrifice fly during fourth-inning Region 13C semifinal amateur baseball action Sunday at Herb Wolf Field in Fairmont. (Photo by Charlie Sorrells)
The Martins play host to Luverne in Game 1 of the two teams' Region 13C best-of-3 championship series at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday at Herb Wolf Field. Game 2 is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Friday in Luverne.
The Region 13C champion earns a first-round bye in the state tournament and does not play until Friday, Aug. 23, while the runner-up opens state action against the Region 2 third-place finisher at 1 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 17, at Municipal Stadium in Delano.
Hadley (21-14) will play Willmar in a best-of-3 series for the regional's third spot in the state tournament.
"We hit the ball with authority (Saturday), too, but we didn't strand nearly as many runners today," said Martins player-coach Adam Schmidt, whose lineup left just five runners on base in Sunday's clash. "I thought our pitchers (starter Spencer Chirpich and reliever Shaun McGuire) did a nice job of throwing strikes and getting ahead in the count, too."
With Spencer Chirpich, a hard-throwing junior-to-be at Fairmont High School this fall, blanking the Buttermakers through the first three innings, the Martins pounded out a combined six hits to produce three runs in the bottom of the second and a solo run in the third.
Schmidt and Luke Becker greeted Hadley right-hander Chris Halbur with back-to-back singles during the home half of the second before Dustin Sobolik bunted both teammates into scoring position.
Ian Bents then drilled a slicing triple off the right fielder's glove near the foul line to plate both Schmidt and Becker for a 2-0 lead. Bents then trotted home on Levi Becker's RBI single up the middle.
McGuire later drew a one-out walk during the Martins' third at-bat, advanced 90 feet on Max Waletich's single to center, reached third on a walk to Schmidt and crossed the plate on Luke Becker's bloop single to right for a 4-0 lead.
Hadley then combined the first of Nick Bruning's three hits on the game with a Fairmont error, two walks - a bases-loaded pass to Zach Bruns - and Halbur's two-run single to erupt for three runs in the top of the fourth to inch within one run.
The Martins, however, matched the Buttermakers in the home half of the fourth by plating three runs on the strength of Scott Chirpich's two-run triple and McGuire's sacrifice fly.
With McGuire putting the clamps on the Hadley lumber for the final 1 1/3 innings, Fairmont erupted for eight runs on five hits during the last of the sixth to put the game in the books.
Jon Ellis delivered an RBI triple before scoring on Scott Chirpich's RBI single. McGuire followed with a single, Waletich walked and Schmidt blasted a three-run triple to left field to extend the gap to 12-3.
Luke Becker lofted a sacrifice fly to plate Schmidt for the 10-run margin before Levi Becker doubled home a run and Ellis tacked on another run via an RBI fielder's choice.
Levi Becker went 2-for-2 with a double, walked, was hit by a pitch, drove in two runs and scored twice for the Martins, while Luke Becker went 2-for-3 with two RBIs and scored a run.
Bruning went 3-for-4 with a run scored to top Hadley, while Joe Larson and Halbur contributed two hits each.
Spencer Chirpich allowed three runs - all unearned - on seven hits in 5 2/3 innings to net the victory for Fairmont. Chirpich fanned three and walked three.
McGuire struck out two and did not issue a walk in working 1 1/3 innings of one-hit shutout relief.
Halbur gave up six runs - three earned - on five hits in three-plus innings to take the loss. Halbur issued five walks during his stint.
H 000 300 0 - 3 8 1
F 031 308 x - 15 12 1
Chris Halbur (LP), Justin Reinsma (4), James Wajer (6), Eric Wieneke (6) and Trent Carlson. Spencer Chirpich (WP), Shaun McGuire (6) and Dustin Sobolik.
LOB-Fairmont 5, Hadley 9. 2B-Levi Becker (F). 3B-Jon Ellis (F), Scott Chirpich (F), Adam Schmidt (F), Ian Bents (F). SF-McGuire (F), Luke Becker (F). SAC-Sobolik (F).