SLEEPY EYE - The player whom his Fairmont American Legion Post 36 baseball teammates good-naturedly refer to as "grandpa," provided the game-winning swing during Friday's elimination game in Sleepy Eye.
Ryan Noll, a former Cardinal three-sport standout and 2013 graduate, connected for a 10th-inning sacrifice fly to plate Parker Monsen to help Post 36 eclipse Sleepy Eye Post 7 in a 3-2 playback-bracket battle.
Fairmont (9-6) advances to face the winner between Owatonna and Mankato American in another 4 p.m. elimination game today in the Division I, Sub-state 2 tournament in Sleepy Eye.
PHOTO FINISH — Fairmont Post 36 first baseman Nate Johnson (8) awaits the baseball as New Ulm Gold Post 132 batter Wyatt Peterson (9) attempts to beat the throw from Fairmont shortstop Matt Lytle (middle back) during second-round Division I, Sub-state 2 American Legion baseball action on Friday in Sleepy Eye. Peterson was called out on the close play. (Photo by Leanna Becker)
Ace right-hander Chase Meyer fired a two-hit complete-game shutout to power New Ulm Gold Post 132 to a 3-0 winners-bracket triumph over Fairmont earlier Friday.
New Ulm Gold (23-7) squares off against Mankato National in a 12:30 p.m. undefeated-bracket clash today in Sleepy Eye.
"You'd think I'd been out of school for years the way they (teammates) talk about me," Noll said with a laugh. "It's only been a year, but it did take a while to get my timing back."
With the elimination game knotted at 2-all, Monsen opened the top of the 10th by reaching on a well-placed bunt before wheeling to second base on Luke Becker's third hit of the game.
Monsen and Becker each advanced 90 feet when Jack Waletich's sacrifice bunt did not produce an out before Sleepy Eye starting pitcher Mike Hirsch got an infield popout.
Hirsch, however, did not escape unscathed as Noll hammered a deep flyout to bring home Monsen with the go-ahead run.
Fairmont right-hander Jay Ruen then retired Post 7 in order during the bottom of the 10th inning to seal his complete-game pitching performance.
Ruen allowed two runs - only one earned - on seven hits, struck out two, issued only one walk and hit one batter in 10 yeoman innings of work to earn the complete-game victory.
Monsen, Becker and Waletich set the early offensive tempo by delivering consecutive one-out singles during the top of the first inning, with Waletich's hit plating Monsen. Becker later crossed the plate on Tyler Tennyson's RBI fielder's choice for an early 2-0 lead.
Sleepy Eye halved its deficit behind Jay Helget's double and Matt Berkner's RBI single during the last of the fifth frame.
Host Post 7 then tied the game with the help of an error during the seventh. Hirsch reached on a Post 36 miscue, took second on Mike Zinniel's single and moved to third on a walk. Berkner then blooped an RBI single to right to knot the game at 2-all.
Monsen and Becker each produced three of Fairmont's 10 hits on the elimination game, with Monsen scoring two runs and Becker one. Tennyson and Noll added one hit each.
Berkner went 3-for-5 to pace Sleepy Eye's seven-hit effort, while Brandon Helget contributed a first-inning double.
Hirsch allowed three runs - two earned - on 10 hits, struck out three and walked three in 10 solid innings of work to absorb the loss.
In Friday's earlier winners-bracket showdown, Meyer allowed only a fifth-inning single to Matt Lytle and an eighth-inning hit to Becker to earn his complete-game shutout. Meyer recorded eight strikeouts, walked five and hit one batter in nine stellar innings on the hill.
Tanner Kluis singled to lead off the Post 132's second inning, moved to second on Jacob Gieseke's sacrifice bunt, reached third on Nick Dewanz's fielder's choice before crossing the plate on Brach Kraus' RBI single to right.
Grant Kannegiesser, who reached on a fielder's choice, scored New Ulm's second run on the heels of back-to-back walks to Kluis and Gieseke, and a wild pitch for a 2-0 edge in the third.
Dewanz later reached on a one-out error in the fifth, took second on Wyatt Peterson's single and scored an insurance run on Judd Davis' RBI single up the middle.
Davis and Peterson each collected two of New Ulm's seven hits.
Becker allowed three runs - one earned - on seven hits, walked five, fanned five and hit one batter in eight innings of work to net the loss.
FMT 000 000 000 - 0 2 4
NUG 011 010 00x - 2 7 0
Luke Becker (LP) and Ben Abel. Chase Meyer (WP) and Grant Kannegiesser.
LOB-Fairmont 7; New Ulm Gold 12. SAC-Jacob Gieseke (NU).
FMT 200 000 000 1 - 3 10 2
SE 000 010 100 0 - 2 7 3
Jay Ruen (WP) and Ben Abel. Mike Hirsch (LP) and Jay Helget.
LOB-Fairmont 10; Sleepy Eye 7. 2B-Brandon Helget (SE), Jay Helget (SE). SF-Ryan Noll (F). SAC-Jack Waletich (F).
Division II, 2nd District
St. James coasted to an 18-8 elimination-bracket victory over Luverne during Division II, 2nd District action on Friday in Redwood Falls.
St. James then posted a 7-3 win over defending district champion Winnebago/Blue Earth during Game 1 of the double-elimination tournament's championship showdown on Friday in Redwood Falls.
St. James and Winnebago/Blue Earth square off at 1 p.m. today in Redwood Falls for the district crown and a bid to the Division II state tournament Aug. 1-3 in Luverne.