FAIRMONT - Starting pitcher Clayton Maakestad utilized both his arm and bat to propel Fairmont VFW Post 1222 to a postseason baseball victory on Friday.
Maakestad fired a two-hit complete game from the mound, in addition to producing two hits from the batter's box, to fuel a 9-2 win over Mapleton Post 5338 during 2nd District, Southwest Sub-District action at Herb Wolf Field in Fairmont.
Fairmont (9-4) faces St. James, who received a second-round forfeit from Wells on Friday, at 11 a.m. today in third-round sub-district action back at Herb Wolf Field in Fairmont.
RUNDOWN FEELING — Fairmont VFW Post 1222 first baseman Tyler Tennyson (right) prepares to toss the baseball to second baseman Christian Engeman (second from left) as he chases Mapleton runner Jack Prusser toward second during a rundown in 2nd District, Southwest Sub-District playoff action Friday at Herb Wolf Field in Fairmont. Fairmont shortstop Eli Green looks to rotate into the mix if needed. (Photo by Leanna Becker)
Mapleton stays alive in the consolation bracket, playing Blue Earth today in a 2 p.m. elimination game at Wolf Field. Blue Earth edged Lake Crystal, 6-5.
"Clayton gave us a decent outing (on the mound) today," said Fairmont VFW head coach Todd Sukalski.
Ironically, Maakestad faced only three batters during each of the odd-numbered innings, allowing only a solo Mapleton run via an error in the second before a one-walk morphed into Luke Hawkinson's RBI single during the sixth.
With the Fairmont ace right-hander holding Mapleton's lumber in check, host Post 1222's offense opened the top of the first inning with two runs. Fairmont tacked on two more runs in the third before combining six hits into five sixth-inning runs to put the game out of reach.
Holding a 4-1 margin, Mark Washa drilled a leadoff single to left to set the table for Post 1222's offensive outburst in the next-to-last at-bat. Pinch runner Evan Closs stole second base, wheeled to third on Matt Larson's infield hit and stayed put when Christian Engeman drew a walk from Mapleton reliever Noah Greenfield.
Jack Waletich and Eli Green followed with line-drive RBI singles before Engeman crossed the plate on a wild pitch to extend Fairmont's lead to 7-1.
Nathan Gillis then hammered a two-run double to the left-center gap to widen the host team's lead to 9-1.
Waletich, who went 2-for-4, triggered Fairmont's first-inning run production. Waletich singled, wheeled all the way to third when Green's sacrifice bunt did not produce an out and later scored when Green swiped second and the catcher's throw sailed into center field.
Green, who went 2-for-2 en route to reaching base five straight times, later scored the first of his three runs on the playoff clash when Gillis drilled a line-drive sacrifice fly to left field for a 2-0 edge.
Green proved the catalyst in the Fairmont third as he walked with one out, advanced 90 feet on Tyler Tennyson's single and crossed the plate when Gillis' hard-hit grounder was mishandled. Tennyson later scored when Maakestad grounded into an RBI fielder's choice.
Adam Dickey drew a one-out, pinch-hit walk from Maakestad during the last of the sixth inning before being replaced on base via Jeff Lewis' fielder's choice. Lewis stole second, move to third uncontested and trotted home on Luke Hawkinson's RBI single to left.
Nick Steinhaus was hit by a Maakestad offering in the home half of the second, reached second on Nick Shubert's sacrifice bunt and circled the bases on an error on teammate Sam Kain's roller to the second-base hole.
Waletich, Green, Maakestad and Matt Larson each collected two hits apiece to top Fairmont's 11-hit performance.
Maakestad allowed two runs - one earned - on two hits, struck out four, issued two walks and hit one batter in seven innings of work to claim the victory.
Mapleton starting pitcher Logan Quiram allowed six runs - two earned - on seven hits, struck out three and walked two in five-plus innings to take the loss.
FMT 202 005 0 - 9 11 2
MPT 010 001 0 - 2 2 3
Clayton Maakestad (WP) and Nathan Gillis. Logan Quiram (LP), Noah Greenfield (6), Jared Moore (7) and Nick Steinhaus.
LOB-Fairmont 9; Mapleton 2. 2B-Gillis (F). SF-Gillis (F). SAC-Eli Green (F), Nick Shubert (M).