NEW ULM - The Fairmont American Legion Post 36 baseball team kept chipping away at Worthington Post 5's lead, but could not ever even the score or grab the lead during Friday night's playoff clash in New Ulm.
Lucas Henning drove in two key insurance runs - one in the bottom of the sixth inning and another in the eighth - to help Worthington stave off Fairmont, 7-5, during a Division I, 2nd District elimination game at Mueller Park.
Worthington advances to play the loser of the Sleepy Eye Post 7 and New Ulm Gold Post 132 game - scheduled for 1 p.m. today - at 4 p.m. today at Johnson Park in New Ulm.
OUT?AT?SECOND — Fairmont American Legion Post 36 second baseman Levi Becker (left) forces out Woodbury Post 501 runner Simon Killeen at second base during Division I, 2nd District playoff baseball action on Friday at Mueller Park in New Ulm. (Photo by Leanna Becker)
Fairmont ended its season with an 11-8 record.
"Our bats finally produced (14 hits) tonight, but we stranded too many runners (11) and came up just a little short on scoring runs," said Post 36 coach Scott Chirpich. "This was a great group of kids to work with, they were a lot of fun to coach and I'll miss them."
Leadoff batter Bryce Holm served as Fairmont's offensive catalyst during the top of the first inning, drilling a double into the right-center gap before staying put on Jordan Voss' single into shallow center.
Ryan Noll later drew a one-out walk to load the bases before Christian Petschke - who went 3-for-4 on the game - hammered an RBI single to right to plate Holm for an early 1-0 edge.
Worthington left-hander Nathan Ray then notched his only strikeout of the contest and got an infield popout to limit the damage to just one run.
Post 5 matched the solo tally in the home half of the first when Tristan Sorenson singled with one out, advanced to second base on a two-out walk to Henning and scored on Ryan Lee's RBI single to right to knot the game at 1-all.
Worthington then plated three runs in the last half of the second and refused to ever surrender the lead for the nine-inning duration.
Tyler Hatterman turned on an inside offering from Fairmont right-hander Jay Ruen and pulled it into the left-field corner for a leadoff triple to literally put Post 5's offense in motion.
Derek Soderholm blooped an RBI single to left to plate Hatterman before Logan Rogers reached via a fielder's choice.
Alex Hayenga bunted Logan Rogers into scoring position for the second out, but Sorenson and Blake Rogers followed with a pivotal RBI single and clutch RBI double, respectively, for a 4-1 margin.
Post 36, however, chipped away with solo runs in the third and fourth frames to inch within one of the lead.
Levi Becker singled before being replaced on the base paths via Ryan Noll's fielder's choice.
Noll later circled the bases when Petschke unleashed a towering RBI double into the right-field corner to slice the gap to 4-2 in the third.
Andy Reiter then reached on an error in the Fairmont fourth and motored to second on Ben Gratz's single before both runners moved into scoring position on Spencer Chirpich's sacrifice bunt.
Reiter got a good jump on Holm's RBI fielder's-choice grounder to third before Ray escaped further damage when centerfielder Alex Hayenga made a nice running catch on Becker's hard-hit sinking line-drive.
Hayenga then delivered an RBI single to plate Soderholm, who had reached on an error, to counter for Worthington with a solo run in the last of the fourth.
Fairmont counterpunched in the fifth when Noll singled, alertly claimed second on a wild pitch, advanced 90 feet on Petschke's single and scored on Ruen's sacrifice fly to pull within 5-4.
Henning's misplayed hard-hit grounder scratched out an unearned run during Post 5's sixth at-bat before Post 36 answered with one run in the eighth.
Gratz and Chirpich each singled before Gratz crossed the plate on Holm's groundout.
Hayenga legged out an infield hit in the Worthington eighth, swiped second and circled the bases on Henning's RBI single to right.
Ray allowed four runs - three earned - on 10 hits, struck out one and walked two in six innings to net the victory for Post 5.
Jordan Bertrand gave up one run on four hits and walked one in 2 2/3 innings of relief for Worthington before Logan Rogers got the final out in the ninth to notch the save.
Ruen allowed seven runs - six earned - on 10 hits, struck out three, walked two and hit two batters in eight innings of work to absorb the loss for Post 36.
Holm, Ruen and Gratz each produced two hits for Fairmont, while Hayenga and Sorenson did likewise for Worthington.
F 101 110 010 - 5 14 3
W 130 101 01x - 7 10 3
Jay Ruen (LP) and Andy Reiter. Nathan Ray (WP), Jordan Bertrand (7), Logan Rogers (9, Sv) and Alex Purdy.
LOB-Fairmont 11, Worthington 9. 2B-Bryce Holm (F), Christian Petschke (F), Blake Rogers (W). 3B-Tyler Hatterman (W). SF-Ruen (F). SAC-Spencer Chirpich (F).
Fairmont 7, Woodbury 4 - Post 36 pounded out 11 hits, while starting pitcher Jordan Voss and reliever Levi Becker combined on a four-hitter to pace a 7-4 elimination-bracket victory over Post 501 on Friday in Mueller Park in New Ulm.
Voss allowed three runs - only one earned - on three hits, struck out five, walked six and hit one batter in five frames of work to earn the victory for Fairmont.
Becker slammed the door shut on Post 36's winning performance, giving up one unearned run on just one hit in four innings of relief. Becker struck out two and walked one to earn the save.
Bryce Holm, Andy Reiter, Jack Waletich and Spencer Chirpich each collected two hits to ignite the Fairmont's offensive breakout, with Reiter scoring two runs and driving in one.
Waleitch and Chirpich each supplied one RBI, Ryan Noll contributed a sacrifice fly, while Jordan Voss added a single and an RBI.
WBY 000 031 000 - 4 4 6
FMT 113 002 00x - 7 11 6
Matt Palkovich (LP), Danny Boatman (2), Alex Busch (3) and Johnny McDonald. Jordan Voss (WP), Levi Becker (6, Sv) and Andy Reiter.
LOB-Fairmont 7, Woodbury 9. SF-Ryan Noll (F).