Tigers claw Cardinals in comeback

TRANSFER — Fairmont second baseman Nick Eversman gets ready to throw on a fielders choice in the first inning of a non-league baseball game against Albert Lea on Monday. Albert Lea’s Ian Ball (22) slides into second after Eversman tagged the base. (Photo by Greg Abel)

FAIRMONT — A hit-and-run lifted the Tigers.

Albert Lea beat the Fairmont Cardinals 5-4 at Herb Wolf Field in Fairmont on Monday in the Tigers’ (3-11) final baseball game before starting the Section 1AAA tournament Saturday.

The Cardinals (11-6) have a scheduled 7:30 p.m. game tonight against Jackson County Central before opening the Section 3AA tournament against JCC at 11 a.m. Saturday.

With the score tied at 4-all going into the seventh inning, Albert Lea’s Carter Simon hit a popup into right field that the Cardinal defense couldn’t corral, and reached on the error.

Simon took off for second on a perfectly-executed hit-and-run from Koby Hendrickson. Hendrickson sent a line drive into the vacated area near second after Simon took off and Simon rounded second at full speed before continuing around third with no hesitation. He caught the Cardinal defense off-guard and was able to score without a throw to the plate.

Fairmont nearly took the win in the bottom of the seventh when Nick Eversman hit a fly ball that dropped just in front of the Tigers’ left fielder, before Dustin Schultz reached on an error.

With runners on first and second and two outs, Jacob Tennyson rocked a fastball into deep left field, nearly reaching the wall on the fly, but Tiger left fielder Ian Ball made a full-speed, leaping catch to end the game.

Fairmont co-head coach Don Waletich said the team did what it needed to, but couldn’t grab the win.

“We kind of came into the game wanting to get all of our pitchers at least one or two innings and we accomplished that,” Waletich said. “We wanted to start all the seniors and get them some innings and we accomplished that. We did everything we wanted to except win the game. We made a nice comeback, we battled back, but our defense just let us down at the end. They made a great catch at the end there, too. I thought we had a chance to win it, but he made an outstanding catch. Just need to get in a good week of practice here and get ready for the playoffs.”

Albert Lea took three runs in the top of the second to get the first lead of the game.

Four consecutive Tigers hit bloop singles into the short outfield to lead off the inning and score two runs. With runners on first and third, Cardinal starter Jack Hested forced a double play, but a third run scored to give the Tigers the initial three-run lead.

Fairmont fought back to take the lead in the fourth.

After a flyout, Zac Ringnell was hit by a pitch in his mid back to reach first, before moving to second on a wild pitch. The pitch was inconsequential though, for Tennyson took a walk in the next at bat.

After another flyout, Carter Reutzel took a walk to load the bases for designated hitter Cale Steuber.

Steuber, who made solid contact in all three of his at-bats on the day, shot a fly ball to right-center field, getting it past the Tigers’ right fielder, for a bases-clearing three-run triple.

Steuber scored after Blake Buntjer walked and forced a balk with an early steal attempt. When Buntjer took off for second, the Tiger pitched wheeled around to his glove side looking to throw, but never took his foot off the rubber and was called for the balk.

Albert Lea tied the game in the fifth when Ball singled and Simon hit an RBI double to the left field wall.

The Cardinals used a bullpen day on the mound to keep pitchers fresh for the start of the section tournament.

Hested pitched two innings, giving up three runs on five hits, Joey Flohrs came in for two innings of relief and gave up one hit, while striking out the side in the fourth for three of his four strikeouts. Dan Brummond, Dalen Keltgen and Nick Eversman each pitched an inning, with Brummond and Eversman giving up a run each and Keltgen striking out one.

Gavyn Tlamka started on the mound for the Tigers and pitched 3 2/3 innings, allowing four runs on three hits, four walks and a hit batter, while Brock Hammer pitched the final 3 1/3 with two hits allowed and two strikeouts.

Before the game, seniors Reutzel, Mario Maldonado, Tennyson, Ringnell, Eversman, Schultz, Keltgen and Daniel Reiter caught ceremonial opening pitches from their mothers to celebrate senior night.

AL 030 010 1 — 5 9 2

FMT 000 400 0 — 4 4 4

Gavyn Tlamka, Brock Hammer (4, WP) and Cody Yokiel. Jack Hested, Joey Flohrs (3), Dan Brummond (5), Dalen Keltgen (6), Nick Eversman (7, LP) and Zac Ringnell.

LOB–Fairmont 8, Albert Lea 8. 2B–Koby Hendrickson (AL), Carter Simon (AL), Jacob Tennyson (FMT). 3B–Cale Steuber (FMT). SAC–Brock Hammer (AL).

The Tigers outslugged the Cardinals in B-squad action.

Noah Nelson threw three innings for the Cardinals, allowing six runs and striking out three, while walking one. Jacob Crissinger came on in relief, throwing three innings and giving up five runs, while striking out one.

Jackson Utermarck finished the game on the mound for Fairmont with four runs allowed in one inning, while striking out one.

Gavin Rodning hit a double, while Eli Anderson had a triple for the Cardinals.

Minnesota Valley Lutheran 11, Martin County West 2 — The Chargers used used a nine-run six inning to take a non-league win over the Mavericks in Welcome on Monday.

With the Section 3AA tournament starting Saturday, the 6-11 No. 8-seeded Mavericks travel to Luverne to take on the No. 1-seeded Cardinals in an 11 a.m. matchup.

Wyatt Geistfeld had two hits and a run scored, while Jaxson Rohman had a hit and a run scored to power the Mavericks’ two-run outing.

Kain Sanders pitched 4 1/3 innings for the Mavericks, giving up two runs on two hits and four walks, while Donavon Swanson gave up four runs on two hits and two walks in an inning pitched.

Todd Morrow came on to pitch the final 1 2/3 innings and gave up five runs — all unearned — on four hits and a walk, while striking out one.

Jace Marotz started on the mound for the Chargers, throwing two innings and giving up no runs on three hits and a walk, while Mathew Rieger pitched two innings of relief gave up two runs on two hits.

Theodore Giefer earned the win with the final three hitless innings pitched, while sending three batters to the bench with a strikeout.

Mason Cox went 3-for-5 with a double and two RBIs for MVL.

MVL 000 029 0 — 11 8 2

MCW 002 000 0 — 2 5 4

Kain Sanders, Donavon Swanson (5, LP), Todd Morrow (6) and Carter Spear. Jace Marotz, Mathew Rieger (3), Theodore Giefer (5, WP) and Mason Cox.