Martins edge Irish, gain Region 13C final series
MILROY — Every amateur baseball game involving the Milroy Irish features a family theme, especially considering the team is comprised of eight Dolans, including manager Bob Dolan.
The underlying family-oriented motif of Sunday’s decisive game of the Region 13C best-of-3 semifinal series between No. 1-seeded Milroy and the No. 4-seeded Fairmont Martins, however, centered around two other vital sets of siblings.
Brothers Lance and Levi Becker combined for three pivotal RBIs, while Kobe Lovell netted the win over older brother Collin Lovell in a pitchers’ duel between a pair of Windom Pirates draftees at Irish Yard.
Lance Becker produced the playoff clash’s first two RBIs in the fifth, Jon Traetow went 4-for-4 with a double and a run scored, while closer Spencer Chirpich posted seven strikeouts in 3 1/3 shutout innings of relief to pace the Martins’ 4-2 victory over the Irish in Milroy.
Fairmont (23-6) hosts the No. 6-seeded Hadley Buttermakers at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday night at Herb Wolf Field in Game 1 of their best-of-3 regional championship series. Hadley swept the No. 2-seeded Luverne Redbirds in their regional semifinal series, 6-5 last Wednesday and 10-5 on Saturday.
Game 2 of the Martins–Buttermakers’ series is scheduled for 2 p.m. Saturday in Hadley, with an ‘if necessary’ Game 3 set for 2 p.m. Sunday back at Wolf Field in Fairmont.
The winner of the Martins–Buttermakers series earns the regional’s No. 1 seed, but more importantly, receives a first-round bye in the Minnesota Class C state tournament.
Milroy (25-8) plays host to Luverne in a best-of-3 third-place regional series, with the opener set for 7:30 p.m. Wednesday night at Irish Yard. The winner advances to the state tournament, while the loser is eliminated from postseason action.
Sunday’s Game 3 pitted brother vs. brother, with Collin Lovell donning No. 7 in the Pirates’ navy blue jersey, while Kobe Lovell wore Windom’s golden No. 25.
“We’ve never pitched against each other before today,” said Kobe Lovell, the Martins’ draftee who will make his collegiate baseball debut for the University of Mary in Bismarck, N.D., in the upcoming season.
“Obviously, he’s helped teach me the game (through the years),” Kobe said in reference to Collin, who pitched for Augustana College in Sioux Falls, S.D., before graduating in 2017.
Collin Lovell, the Irish’s draftee, and Kobe Lovell combined Sunday to put on a pitching clinic, each hurling four shutout innings before the Martins broke the ice.
Traetow hammered a leadoff double to the right-center gap to set the table for Fairmont in the top of the fifth inning before Collin Lovell notched one of his seven strikeouts on the game.
Adam Schmidt then blooped home a hustle double that bounced in shallow center and caromed untouched away from Milroy’s charging outfielder to put Martins runners on second and third with one out.
Collin Lovell displayed his mettle by getting a key groundout via a drawn-in infield without surrendering a run for the second out. Lance Becker, however, battled the older Lovell before depositing a chalk-hugging two-run single along the right-field line for a 2-0 Fairmont lead.
“I was looking for a fastball away or a slider away, but he (Collin Lovell) went with a fastball up and in, and I managed to hit a handle-shot just inside the right-field line,” said Lance Becker, who fouled off four two-strike deliveries to stay alive in the batter’s box.
Chirpich followed with a bloop double down the left-field line to put two Martins in scoring position again, but Collin Lovell notched a strikeout to escape further damage.
Fairmont added a solo run in the top of the sixth when Ethan Hurn drew a leadoff walk and gained second base on a throwing error. Hurn stayed put on Traetow’s shallow single to left, wheeled to third on Levi Becker’s fielder’s choice and was awarded a run when a balk was called on Collin Lovell. Hurn was attempting to steal home on the play.
Milroy, however, answered with two runs in the home half of the sixth to chase Kobe Lovell from the hill with one out.
Tyler Peterson blooped a one-out single off Kobe Lovell before Anthony Dolan legged out a two-out slow roller to third to put Irish runners on the corners. Jake Plaetz drilled a ground-rule double under the center-field fence to score Peterson before Anthony Dolan scored on a wild pitch by Chirpich in relief.
Chirpich, who’s a senior-to-be pitcher at Division I Abilene Christian University this fall, scattered two singles throughout the final 3 1/3 innings to seal the Martins’ regional semifinal series victory.
Levi Becker added a solo insurance run for the Martins’ offense in the top of the eighth. Christian Petschke singled before Traetow singled pinch runner Mitchell Prafke to second base. A wild pitch by Milroy submariner Kenny Morris moved Prafke and Traetow into scoring position before Prafke scored on Levi Becker’s sacrifice fly.
Kobe Lovell allowed two runs — one earned — on four hits, struck out three, hit one batter and did not issue a walk in 5 2/3 innings to net the win for Fairmont.
Collin Lovell gave up four runs — three earned — on seven hits, fanned seven and walked two batters in 7 1/3 innings of work to take the loss for Milroy.
Chirpich delivered two hits for the Martins, while Peterson and Anthony Dolan collected two hits each for the Irish.
FMT 000 021 010 — 4 9 2
MLY 000 002 000 — 2 6 1
Kobe Lovell (WP), Spencer Chirpich (6, Sv) and Ethan Hurn. Collin Lovell (LP), Kenny Morris (8) and Brady Lanoue.
LOB–Fairmont 8, Milroy 8. 2B–Spencer Chirpich (FMT), Jon Traetow (FMT), Adam Schmidt (FMT), Jake Plaetz (MLY). SF–Levi Becker (FMT).