Amateur baseball: Jackson, Fairmont clinch series
LUVERNE — A three-run ninth inning eliminated the need for another extra-inning game and gave the Jackson Bulls a 4-1 victory over Luverne Friday night to clinch the region’s top seed for the upcoming state amateur baseball tournament.
Jackson swept the Redbirds two games to none in their best-of-three series.
The Bulls played two 10-inning games in their previous playoff series against Fairmont. Manager Scott Bahr thought the same scenario might be fated after Luverne scored a run in the bottom of the eighth inning Friday to tie the score at 1-1.
“We thought, ‘This is how we do it. We’re gonna play 10 again,’” Bahr said.
But a line drive single by Blaise Jacobsen off relief pitcher Brian Beuning, who took over for Redbirds starter Cody Zeutenhorst with one out in the ninth, broke the deadlock. Ethan Welter drove in the second run of the inning with another single, and when the Luverne outfielder made an error on the hit, the third run of the ninth came home.
Both Jackson and Luverne already qualified for the state Class C tournament by winning their previous best-of-three series against Fairmont and Wilmont, respectively. But by beating Luverne on Friday, Jackson moves to 29-2 on the season and gets the first pick in the draft.
The Bulls also get to call themselves the No. 1 team in the region.
“There’s something to be said about region champs,” Bahr declared after the game. “We couldn’t get that out of (the players’) heads. They really wanted to be region champions.”
Zach Copley started on the mound for Friday’s contest and continued until being relieved by Windom Pirates pickup Collin Lovell, who came on with two outs in the seventh inning.
Pat Rients went 2-for-3 with a double and two runs for Jackson, and teammate Welter finished 2-for-3 with a double and two RBIs.
Phil Paquette drove in Luverne’s only run with a single in the eighth. Zeutenhorst went 3-for-4 at the plate with a pair of doubles.
The Bulls won’t play their first state tournament game until two weeks after today. Bahr says he may try to get a warm-up game with somebody before then.
Luverne opens state play Sunday, Aug. 17, at noon in Jordan.
R H E
Jackson 000 000 103 — 4 5 0
Luverne 000 000 010 — 1 7 1
Fairmont 6, Wilmont 0 FAIRMONT — Wilmont’s struggles at the plate continued Friday as Fairmont shut out the Cardinals to earn the final regional berth for the state tournament.
After beating the Cards 8-0 on Wednesday, the Martins cuffed them on a three-hitter in Game Two of the series.
Sawyer Doocy hurled eight innings to capture the victory. Lucas Henning took the loss for Wilmont, which finished its season with a 16-7 record.
Henning, who pitched seven innings, and Adam Diekman, who pitched one, allowed 11 Fairmont hits between them.
Scott Chirpich and Doocy both had two of the Martins’ hits and they both drove in a run. Ian Bents had two hits, including a double.
Luke Becker’s double drove in two runs in a three-run seventh inning.
Fairmont, 24-10, will open the state tournament at 1:30 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 16, in Jordan against the Region 4 runner-up.
R H E
Wilmont 000 000 000 — 0 3 1
Fairmont 010 110 30x — 6 11 0