Martins double up A’s in muddy regional series finale

SQUEEZE — Fairmont Martins third baseman Sam Schwieger (right) leans and squeezes a foul popup for an out as Pipestone A’s player/coach Danny Moffitt watches the defensive gem during Game 3 of the teams’ Region 13C amateur baseball playoff series Sunday at Herb Wolf Field. (Photo by Greg Abel)

FAIRMONT — Neither rain nor muddy field nor Pipestone A’s on Sunday could prevent the Fairmont Martins from reaching the next round of the Region 13C amateur baseball playoffs.

Starting pitcher Tyler Tennyson and closer Spencer Chirpich combined to hurl a five-hitter, while the Becker brothers — Levi and Lance — combined for four hits and three RBIs to propel the Martins to a 4-2 victory over the A’s during a damp finale of their best-of-3 playoff series at Herb Wolf Field.

No. 4-seeded Fairmont (21-5) awaits the winner between the No. 1-seeded Milroy Irish and No. 8-seeded Lakefield in Game 1 of another best-of-3 regional series starting at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday night at the higher seed’s home field.

Milroy and Lakefield, which are knotted at one game apiece, square off tonight in the quarterfinal series’ finale at 7:30 p.m. at Irish Yard. Game 3 was postponed Sunday due to rain.

“Win and advance — that’s the bottom line in the region playoffs,” said Martins player/coach Levi Becker, who went 3-for-4 with a double and two RBIs in Sunday’s series-clinching triumph. “We’ve reached the final four, but we’d like to advance to the final regional series to lock up a state (tournament) bid.”

That was not the case in 2018. Hadley swept Fairmont in back-to-back final four Region 13C games before Windom captured the third-place series 2-1. Each regional’s top three teams advance to the state tourney.

“Pitching has been our strength throughout this season,” said Levi Becker. “We got the kind of game today that we expect out of TTen (Tennyson) — pitch to contact — every time he steps to the mound.”

Tennyson retired the first eight A’s batters he faced in the rain Sunday, with shortstop Spencer Chirpich, third baseman Sam Schwieger and right fielder Adam Schmidt supplying the deft defensive support behind the Martins’ ace right-hander.

Chirpich displayed his range by roaming near second base to record the game’s initial out on Mitchell Carson’s grounder before charging Jordan Karels’ water-logged slow roller and pegging a strike to first baseman Christian Petschke for the second out of the first inning.

Schwieger then opened the top of the second by ranging to the third-base foul fence and gloving a wind-blown drifting popup on cleanup batter Austin Moeller for the first out.

Pipestone’s Josh Tinklenberg then drilled a rising liner to the right-center gap that Schmidt snared with his extended reach while retreating for another clutch out.

Schmidt and Lance Becker delivered both of Fairmont’s runs during the bottom of the second inning. Ethan Hurn launched a towering leadoff triple to left field, stayed at the hot corner on Levi Becker’s infield hit and scampered across the plate on Schmidt’s sacrifice fly to center.

Blake Crawmer, who went 3-for-4, legged out an infield hit to put Martins on the corners before Lance Becker singled to right to plate Levi Becker for a 2-0 margin.

Fairmont doubled its lead with two more runs in the last of the third inning. Petschke drew a one-out walk, Hurn was brushed by an Austin Evans’ pitch and both scored on Levi Becker’s deep double to the right-center gap.

Tennyson worked around back-to-back Pipestone two-out singles in the fifth before Hurn erased Karels’ infield hit by throwing him out trying to swipe second base in the sixth.

The A’s finally spoiled Tennyson’s shutout bid in the seventh when Austin Moeller doubled, Josh Tinklenberg was plunked, Evans walked and Luke Tinklenberg lined a two-run single to left with two outs.

The hard-throwing Chirpich then flip-flopped defensive spots with Tennyson with one out in the top of the eighth inning. Chirpich worked around Tennyson’s walk and an error when Schwieger made an inning-ending backhanded stop and forceout at third base on Collin Moeller’s hard-hit grounder.

Chirpich hurled a hitless and scoreless ninth inning from the soupy mud on the mound to earn the save. Chirpich struck out two and walked one in 1 2/3 innings of work.

Tennyson allowed two earned runs on five hits, recorded nine strikeouts and walked three in 7 1/3 innings pitched to earn the victory.

Pipestone starting pitcher Brandan Alfson, who struck out 11 batters in six innings of work to net the Game 2 win over Fairmont on Friday night, started Game 3 on Sunday. Alfson allowed two earned runs on three hits, struck out one and did not issue a walk in 1 1/3 innings to take the loss.

PIP 000 000 200 — 2 5 1

FMT 022 000 00x — 4 9 1

Brandan Alfson (LP), Austin Evans (2), Mike Friese (7) and Collin Moeller. Tyler Tennyson (WP), Spencer Chirpich (8, Sv) and Ethan Hurn.

LOB–Fairmont 8, Pipestone 8. 2B–Levi Becker (FMT), Austin Moeller (PIP). 3B–Hurn (FMT). SF–Adam Schmidt (FMT).