Fairmont falls to New Ulm in pitcher’s duel

Fairmont’s Merritt Pomerenke takes a lead off of third during a Big South Conference baseball game against New Ulm Thursday at New Ulm High School. Photo by Ari Selvey.

NEW ULM — For six innings, New Ulm freshman left-hander Tanner Backer used his arm to keep Fairmont off of the scoreboard.

In the bottom of the seventh, he used his bat to lift the Eagles to a Big South Conference win at the New Ulm High School Field.

Backer sent Cardinals reliever Ben Moeller’s first pitch to the gap in right-center to score Ayden Jensen from second and lift New Ulm to 1-0 win.

Kolton Achman, who relieved Backer in the top of the seventh inning, got the win as New Ulm improved to 4-6 overall and 4-3 in conference play.

Backer went the first six innings and scattered three hits while striking out seven.

Fairmont freshman Jensen Livesay was charged with the loss for the Cardinals, who fell to 8-6 overall and 5-4 in conference action.

Livesay went 6 1/3 innings and allowed just one hit and struck out five. Livesay carried a no-hitter into the sixth inning.

“This was a great game by our team today,” New Ulm head coach Mike Anderson said. “We were engaged — we threw strikes, we kept our glove on the ground and we played perfect. And so did Fairmont — it was a great game. And both of the starting pitchers are freshmen.”

And both Backer and Livesay shut down the other team’s offense.

Fairmont mounted threats in the first and third innings off of Backer, putting a runner on third but failing to get them in.

And in the fourth, the Cardinals placed a runner at second. Backer again worked out of the jam, however, with two strikeouts to end the inning.

Fairmont head coach Don Waletich said his team could not find hits in the game.

“The timely hits were not there and sometimes that is baseball,” he said. “But you have to give credit to them — they pitched a very good game, as did Jensen, who pitched a heck of a game.”

Anderson said that Backer was a man among boys.

“When he stays square and throws strikes he just does not get hit hard,” Anderson said. “And he got out of some jams and some time he did it on his own. He fielded a bunt on the left side and got out of a jam.

“For being a 15-year-old, he plays under control. And he had the double of the year [in the seventh] and I could not be more proud of him.”

Anderson was also happy with the play of center fielder Landon Barstad, who made his first varsity start in the game.

“He got the first hit of the gane for us in the sixth and he has practiced so hard for us over the last two weeks for us,” Anderson said. “He has carried himself and earned his way into being a starting player by how he has carried himself.”

Both teams will see each other again Tuesday when they meet in at 5:30 p.m. Fairmont.


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