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Cardinals split baseball pair; Fairmont softball downs JCC

TEAMWORK — Fairmont centerfielder Gavin Rodning (right) hauls in a fly ball as left fielder Levi Pooley backs up the play during Big South baseball doubleheader action Tuesday at Herb Wolf Field in Fairmont. (Photo by Greg Abel)

FAIRMONT — Zach Jorgensen’s clutch two-run single in the fifth inning and Eli Anderson’s shutdown pitching performance over the final 3 2/3 innings powered Fairmont to its seventh consecutive victory — a 2-1 Big South baseball decision over Jackson County Central during Game 1 of Tuesday’s doubleheader at Herb Wolf Field.

Payton Handevidt’s precision RBI bunt hit and Trace Michelson’s ensuing sacrifice fly with one out in the bottom of the eighth inning literally squeezed the visiting Huskies — who were the home team in Game 2 — to a 6-5 streak-ending win over the Cardinals to salvage a split decision.

“Hopefully, reaching a dozen wins and closing out the regular season on a strong note will help us earn home-field advantage in the first couple rounds of the playoffs,” said Fairmont head coach Don Waletich.

Fairmont (12-8) awaits the results of Wednesday’s seeding meeting for the upcoming Section 3AA tournament that opens Saturday at the top two seeds’ home ballparks in both the North and South Sub-Sections.

Jackson County Central (11-7) travels to Heron Lake for its regular-season finale on Thursday.

“Once again, we received solid pitching efforts, but we just didn’t field it well enough to pull off the doubleheader sweep today,” said Waletich, whose lineup committed a combined seven errors during the two-game span.

Fairmont starting pitcher Jacob Crissinger allowed just two hits in three shutout innings in Game 1, striking out six and issuing just one walk to maintain his duel with JCC right-hander Trace Michelson.

Michelson held the Cardinal bats scoreless until the bottom of the fifth when Brendan Schmidtke, Monday night’s pitching and hitting hero in Fairmont’s win over Albert Lea, set the table with an infield hit. Levi Pooley bunted Schmidtke to second base before Nate Soelter drew a walk.

Schmidtke later tagged on Eli Anderson’s flyout to center and advanced 90 feet to third base before Soelter swiped second. Lincoln Becker walked to load the bases before Jorgensen delivered the clutch go-ahead, two-run single to left for a 2-1 lead.

Anderson then retired six of the final seven JCC batters he faced to earn the victory in relief for Fairmont. Anderson notched four strikeouts, did not issue a walk and gave up just one hit in 3 2/3 shutout innings of work.

Jackson Utermarck doubled, while Becker, Jack Kosbab, Pooley and Soelter each generated hits for the Cardinals in the opener, with Schmidtke going 2-for-3.

After four complete shutout innings in Game 2, Fairmont manufactured four runs on just two hits in the top of the fifth. Rodning broke up JCC starting pitcher Levi Lindley’s no-hit bid with an infield single before Pooley and Anderson drew RBI bases-loaded walks. Becker delivered the key hit — a two-run single — for the Cardinals.

Michelson’s two-run single and Mason Pohlman’s RBI single highlight the Huskies’ answering four-run outburst during the bottom of the fifth.

Tied at 4, Jorgensen led off the top of the eighth by drilling a double into the right-field corner. Jorgensen swiped third on Ball 4 of a walk to Kosbab before crossing the plate on Utermarck’s sacrifice fly to center for a 5-4 lead.

Handevidt’s suicide-squeeze bunt later knotted the game at 5 before Michelson lofted the game-winning sacrifice fly to exit Wolf Field with an extra-inning win.

Gabe Wolff allowed one run on one hit, walked two and struck out one in pitching the final 1 2/3 innings of relief to net the win for the Huskies in Game 2.

(Game 1)

JCC 000 100 0 — 1 3 2

FHS 000 020 x — 2 8 2

Trace Michelson (LP), Andrew Boyum (5) and Mason Pohlman. Jacob Crissinger, Preston Vaughn (4), Eli Anderson (4, WP) and Jackson Utermarck.

LOB–JCC 7, Fairmont 6. 2B–Jackson Utermarck (FHS). SAC–Levi Pooley (FHS).

(Game 2)

FHS 000 040 01 — 5 3 5

JCC 000 040 02 — 6 8 3

Winning run scored with one out in the bottom of the eighth inning.

Nate Soelter, Preston Vaughn (4), Lincoln Becker (5), Brendan Schmidtke (5, LP) and Jackson Utermarck. Levi Lindley, Carter Ahrens (5), Keenan Ambrose (6), Gabe Wolff (7, WP) and Mason Pohlman.

LOB–JCC 11, Fairmont 6. 2B–Zach Jorgensen (FHS), Levi Lindley (JCC). SF–Jackson Utermarck (FHS), Trace Michelson (JCC).

Prep Softball

Fairmont 11, Jackson County Central 6 — Kaitlyn Scott delivered a pivotal two-RBI single during the Cardinals’ three-run top of the sixth inning to help create separation on the scoreboard during a five-run Big South triumph over the Huskies on Tuesday in Jackson.

Scott singled twice and collected three RBIs for Fairmont, while teammate Chantel Moeller produced a game-best four RBIs on the strength of a two-run singles and a pair of RBI ground outs.

Nevaeh Rahm and Cassidy Schultz each contributed two hits and one RBI to the Cardinals’ 11-hit offensive performance, Anna Ehlert also generated two hits, while Emily Muller slammed a double.

Rahm retired the last 10 JCC batters she faced in the contest, including striking out the side in the bottom of the sixth inning. Rahm allowed five runs — four earned — on just three hits, recorded a game-best 12 strikeouts and issued three walks in 6 2/3 innings to earn the victory. Allison Janssen allowed one run on two hits in retiring the final out in relief for the Cardinals.

Fairmont (6-13) travels to Montgomery on Thursday for its final regular-season game against Tri-City United.

Brylee Miller tripled, singled and produced a game-leading four RBIs to power Fairmont to a 16-7 triumph over JCC during junior varsity action Tuesday.

Miller also handled the pitching duties, giving up seven runs on five hits, while striking out 10 and walking six in seven innings of work to earn the complete-game victory.

Paige Linse, Breanna Groskreutz, Ashley Muller, Cassie King and Lacie Fetters each contributed one hit to Fairmont’s winning ways.

Sleepy Eye St. Mary’s 10, Martin County West 8 — A Julia Helget RBI single to score Ally Labat put the Knights ahead in the top of the ninth to take a nonconfernce softball win over the Mavericks on Tuesday in Welcome.

Helget later scored on a wild pitch to give the Knights a two-run advantage in extra innings.

Kelley Bettin pitched the first four innings for MCW, allowing five runs on five hits and four walks, while striking out two. Lina Arnold hurled the final five innings for the Mavericks, allowing five runs on four hits and two walks, while collecting two strikeouts.

Arnold led the Maverick offense with two doubles and four RBIs, while Taylor Elliott collected six total bases with a home run and a double to add two RBIs to the offensive barrage. Paige Anderson contributed an RBI double to the Mavericks’ effort.

Megan Ahless started in the circle for the Knights, allowing five runs on five hits and two walks, while striking out three in four innings of work.

Lacy Mathiowetz garnered the win in relief for St. Mary’s, pitching five innings and allowing three runs on three hits and three walks, while striking out six.

The Mavericks (8-8) play host to Janesville-Waldorf-Pemberton at 4:30 p.m. Thursday in Welcome.

Prep Baseball

Sleepy Eye St. Mary’s 7, Martin County West 6 — A six-run fifth inning powered the Knights past the Mavericks during nonconference baseball action Tuesday in Welcome.

Kain Sanders started on the mound for MCW, striking out six and allowing five hits and six runs — only two earned — in six innings.

Zach Anderson threw the final inning for the Mavericks and allowed one run on one walk and no hits.

Jaxson Rohman walked four times, while stealing six bases and crossing the plate for three runs for MCW.

Wyatt Williamson collected two hits, including a double, and two RBIs, while Jacob Fiala had two singles and three RBIs.

MCW (9-10) awaits its seeding for the start of the Section 2A playoffs Saturday.

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