FAIRMONT - Fairmont right-hander Clayton Maakestad did not waste any time in retiring Waseca's batters during Thursday's 40-degree temperatures at Herb Wolf Field.
The Cardinal sophomore needed less than 60 pitches to fire a three-hit complete-game gem, while cleanup hitter Jay Ruen produced two RBIs on a hit and a sacrifice fly to pace a 3-1 South Central Conference baseball victory over the Bluejays in Fairmont.
"On a cold day like today, Clayton did a nice job of getting us in and out of the dugout with a number of quick innings," Fairmont mentor Todd Sukalski said in reference to his starting pitcher's 1 hour, 17-minute mound masterpiece. "That was a quality win, and it's a good way to start our stretch of five games in the next five days."
AND THE CALL IS? — Fairmont runner Spencer Chirpich (left) and Waseca catcher Jacob Walter look to the umpire for his call at the plate during South Central Conference baseball action Thursday at Herb Wolf Field in Fairmont. While Chirpich was ruled out on the play, Fairmont went on to defeat Waseca, 3-1. (Photo by Leanna Becker)
Class AA, No. 8-ranked Fairmont (7-1, 3-1 SCC) hosts section rival and No. 4-ranked Luverne in a rescheduled 5 p.m. game today at Herb Wolf Field before facing host Windom at 10 a.m. and Adrian at 12:30 p.m. during the Windom Invitational on Saturday.
Fairmont then travels to Johnson Park for a 4 p.m. clash with SCC rival and Class AA No. 6-ranked New Ulm on Monday in New Ulm.
Maakestad allowed a two-out single to Max Kaplan in the top of the first inning before the top of the Cardinals' batting order staked the Fairmont right-hander to a 2-0 lead during the home half.
Cardinal leadoff batter Spencer Chirpich, who went 2-for-3, set the table by lining a single to right before advancing 90 feet when Waseca right-hander Colby Sylvester issued a walk to Jack Waletich.
Luke Becker, who's connected for four home runs on the season, then launched a towering double to left field to plate Chirpich for a 1-0 edge. Waletich, who had reached third base on Becker's blast, then scored on Ruen's sacrifice fly to center.
The Bluejays then manufactured a textbook run during the top of the second via a leadoff walk to Jacob Walter, Jack Paczkowski's sacrifice bunt, Zak Kruger's groundout and Ben Stoesz's RBI single with two out.
Alex White followed with a single up the middle, but Fairmont second baseman Luke Becker displayed his range by gloving a hard grounder to his left before squaring himself to make an inning-ending throw to first.
Maakestad then retired 15 of the last 17 Bluejay batters he faced, including 1-2-3 innings in the third, fourth and sixth, to ice his complete-game victory. Maakestad struck out five and walked two during his seven-inning pitching stint.
The Cardinals produced an insurance run during the last of the third. Becker drew a one-out walk, swiped second base and motored home on Ruen's RBI single to center.
Nathan Gillis and Parker Monsen each added hits for Fairmont.
Sylvester allowed three earned runs on six hits, struck out two and walked three in six innings of work to absorb the loss for the Bluejays.
Waseca (2-6, 0-2 SCC) hosts St. James at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday.
WAS 010 000 0 - 1 3 0
FMT 201 000 x - 3 6 1
Colby Sylvester (LP) and Jacob Walter. Clayton Maakestad (WP) and Ben Abel.
LOB-Fairmont 4; Waseca 5. 2B-Spencer Chirpich (F), Luke Becker (F). SF-Jay Ruen (F). SAC-Jack Paczkowski (W).
Kale Fritz fired a five-hit complete game to help guide Fairmont to a 7-4 victory over Waseca during junior varsity action Thursday in Fairmont.
Fritz allowed four runs - only one earned - struck out eight and walked two in seven innings of work to earn the victory.
Bailey Koppen produced an RBI double for the Cardinals, while Mark Washa and Fritz each supplied run-scoring singles.
Nate Johnson contributed a hit, while Evan Closs added an RBI sacrifice bunt for Fairmont (4-3), which hosts Luverne today.
Waseca plated two runs in the top of the seventh inning to slip by Fairmont, 5-4, during C-squad action Thursday in Fairmont.
Cody Freese and Justin Schwieger each collected two hits to top the Cardinals' offense, while Matt Larson, Dylan Gerken, Caleb Lloyd and Dylan Peterson chalked up one hit apiece.
Freese gave up three runs on six hits and struck out four in three innings pitched. Schwieger gave up two runs - one earned - and struck out one in two innings of relief for the Cardinals (3-2), who play at 11 a.m. Saturday in the Blue Earth Area Tournament.