Cardinals coast by Bucs in 9-1 baseball clash

SLAMMING ON THE BRAKES — Blue Earth Area hitter Karson Legred slams on the brakes as Fairmont second baseman Lance Becker looks to apply the tag during Big South Conference baseball action Monday at Herb Wolf Field in Fairmont. Legred singled to the left-center gap and tried to stretch the single into a double, but Fairmont centerfielder Nate Kallenbach pegged a strike to Becker to deny the extra base. (Photo by Charlie Sorrells)

FAIRMONT — Fairmont’s pitching staff continued to lower its ERA during Monday’s Big South Conference baseball clash against rival Blue Earth Area.

Starting pitcher Dalen Keltgen, reliever Zach Jorgensen and closer Nate Kallenbach did not allow an earned run during the Cardinals’ 9-1 triumph over the visiting Bucs at Herb Wolf Field in Fairmont.

The eight-run decision proved Fairmont’s sixth win out of its last seven games. The Cardinals’ pitching rotation has allowed nine runs during those six victories.

“Dalen’s always around the plate (with his pitches), so it’s just a matter of how well we field it behind him,” said Fairmont co-head coach Jerry Brooks.

Keltgen needed only six pitches to exit the top of the first inning before the Cardinals’ batting order staked the junior right-hander to an early 3-0 lead.

“We did exactly what we talked about in our pre-game — score early and often, and take the spirit out of them (the Bucs),” said Brooks.

Jordan Wolter golfed a leadoff single inside the left-field line, Sam Schwieger pounded the first of his four hits and Nate Kallenbach was plunked by a delivery from Buc starting pitcher Koby Nagel to load the bases for the Cardinals in the home half of the first.

Nagel gloved a soft comebacker to record the first out, but Nick Eversman hammered a two-run single to right field to bring home Schwieger and Kallenbach.

Collin Steuber walked before Nagel got a popup for the second out only to plunk Nick Segar with the bases loaded to force in a run.

Keltgen then worked around Gavin Storbeck’s second-inning single as Cardinal third baseman Collin Steuber triggered a 5-4-3 inning-ending double play to leave the home team up 3-0.

Trevor Oppedal utilized every inch of his 6-foot-8 frame to smack a leadoff triple to deep center in the Bucs’ top of the third. Oppedal later scored the visitors’ only run when Bobby Lindsey’s grounder was mishandled.

Keltgen, however, escaped without further damage as Fairmont catcher Zac Ringnell threw out Lindsey trying to swipe second on a failed hit-and-run.

Keltgen received more defensive support in the fourth when Karson Legred belted a hit to the left-center gap that appeared to be a double. Kallenbach, however, cut the ball off and fired a strike to second baseman Lance Becker for a putout.

Schwieger, who went 4-for-4, lashed a towering two-out double to trigger Fairmont’s five-run fourth. Schwieger lofted a delivery into the right-field corner, reached third via an error on Kallenbach’s grounder and was balked home.

Becker walked before Eversman slugged his second two-run hit of the game — a double this time — before Steuber and Brady Allen added RBI singles to widen the Cardinals’ margin to 8-1.

Schwieger later singled home Jordan Wolter for Fairmont’s solo run in the fifth. Wolter, who went 2-for-4, singled, advanced to third base on back-to-back wild pitches, and trotted home on Schwieger’s single to right.

Keltgen earned the win by allowing one unearned run on three hits, struck out three and walked three in five frames of work for the home team.

Eighth-grader Zach Jorgensen made his varsity debut at Wolf Field by striking out one and walking two in a scoreless and hitless sixth inning in relief. Kallenbach then fanned two in a flawless seventh to close out the Cardinals’ win.

Fairmont (8-5) hits the road to New Ulm today, while Blue Earth Area (3-9) travels to Marshall today for a 4:30 p.m. doubleheader.

BEA 001 000 0 — 1 3 3

FMT 300 510 x — 9 12 2

Koby Nagel (LP), Keagan O’Brien (4) and Karson Legred. Dalen Keltgen (WP), Zach Jorgensen (6), Nate Kallenbach (7) and Zac Ringnell.

LOB–Fairmont 9; Blue Earth Area 6. 2B–Sam Schwieger (F), Nick Eversman (F). 3B–Trevor Oppedal (BEA).