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Martins steamroll to Class ‘C’ state championship

FIRING STRIKES — Fairmont starting pitcher Ross Ackerman delivers a strike to the plate against St. Patrick during the Minnesota Class ‘C’ amateur baseball state championship game Monday at Riverside Park in Springfield. The Windom draftee pitched six shutout innings to help guide the Martins to a 12-0, seven-inning victory. (Photo by Kyle McAreavy)

SPRINGFIELD — From start to finish, the 2020 Minnesota amateur baseball season has faced problems.

First, the COVID-19 pandemic put the season in question. Then New Ulm backed out on hosting the state tournament twice, with the Milroy Yankees filling the void late in the game. Even the rain on Labor Day that threatened to postpone the championship game proved to work against the event.

The Fairmont Martins powered through all of those questions and brought home the Class ‘C’ state championship on Monday.

The Martins closed the season with a 12-0, seven-inning championship win over the St. Patrick Irish at Riverside Park in Springfield. The win marks the first time the Martins have won a “town team” state title since 1959 when they were in Class ‘A.’ Fairmont’s lone other state title came in 1930.

For the fourth consecutive game, the Martins were boosted by an outstanding starting pitching performance.

The Martins played four games in three days through the weekend and needed to use only five pitchers in their four wins.

For the final masterpiece, Windom draftee Ross Ackerman took the hill, hurling a six-inning, three-hit gem with four strikeouts. Ackerman gave up a hit in the first, but quickly erased the runner with a double play, then gave up a single in the second and one in the sixth.

Ackerman recorded 11 consecutive outs after the single in the second before Fairmont’s lone error broke his streak in the fifth. His lone jam came in the sixth when a leadoff single and a passed ball put a runner on second and nobody out, but Ackerman reared back and struck out the next two batters before getting a groundout to end the frame with no damage.

Adam Schmidt, the Martins’ elder statesman, came on to pitch the final inning, striking out two.

“Adam was on the 2012 team when they were runner-up. Being able to tell him to go to the mound and throw the seventh was a great moment for him, his family and our team,” said Fairmont assistant coach Dave Hurn.

“That was perfect,” Schmidt said. “I told the guys this was basically eight years waiting for me, that one was a heartbreaker, this one was a relief. This is what you play for, this is what you wait for.”

But no matter how solid a pitching performance, Fairmont’s bats continued their hot streak in the tournament.

“When we walked in the ballpark this morning, we knew we were gonna hit the ball,” Martins’ player/coach Levi Becker said.

And hit they did.

The Martins strung together 17 hits and scored in each of the first five innings to build their advantage.

Derek Shoen contributed the lone run of the first inning after singling, advancing on a Jon Traetow single and scoring on a Levi Becker single through the left side of the infield.

In the second, Tyler Tennyson and Schmidt both singled to start the inning, then the bases were loaded when Luke Becker ran out a swinging bunt down the third base line.

Tennyson and Schmidt both scored on a Jack Waletich double flared down the left field line. Luke Becker later scored on a Shoen groundout.

Levi Becker led off the third with a double, then scored on a Schmidt single to left to put the Martins ahead 5-0 after three innings.

In the fourth, Luke Becker collected his second single, Waletich walked, Traetow singled to score a run and Levi Becker rocketed his third hit of the game with a two-run triple to left.

“It started (Sunday) with two big wins and really kept going,” Levi Becker said of his hot hitting. “… I came ready, prepared and I saw the ball really well today.”

Fairmont added another four runs in the fourth and three more in the fifth.

Luke Becker ended with three hits and three runs scored, Waletich had a double, a walk and two runs scored while Shoen had a single and two RBIs.

Traetow singled twice and had two RBIs, Levi Becker hit a single, double and triple, collecting three RBIs.

Ethan Hurn singled, Tennyson collected two hits, two runs scored and an RBI, Schmidt singled twice and brought in an RBI, and Blake Crawmer singled and scored a run.

“This was our goal from Day 1 and we knew when we put this roster together and how deep our pitching was, we knew this was the year to do it,” Levi Becker said.

Luke Becker, Traetow and Waletich were named to the Minnesota Class ‘C’ all-tournament amateur baseball team, with Luke Becker also receiving the Most Valuable Player award.

FMT 131 430 0 — 12 17 1

STP 000 000 0 — 0 3 1

Ross Ackerman (WP), Adam Schmidt (7) and Blake Crawmer. Josh Simon (LP), Bill Dunker (3), Jack Meyer (6) and Matt Ambroz.

LOB–Fairmont 6; St. Patrick 3. 2B–Jack Waletich (FMT); Levi Becker (FMT). 3B–Levi Becker (FMT).

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