Prep baseball: Fairmont sends Luverne to 3AA elimination bracket
MARSHALL — Luverne was backed into a corner Monday as it resumed its Class 3AA semifinal game against Fairmont.
Luverne ended up allowing two of those Fairmont baserunners to score Monday afternoon, but the real hit came in the fifth when it hung a 5-spot on the scoreboard to stretch its lead to 11-2. When all was said and done, Luverne was knocked into the elimination bracket with a 12-5 loss.
“That’s a tough mindset when you have two days to think about having the bases loaded, down 4-2,” Luverne coach Mike Wenninger said. “I don’t know if the guys felt like they kind of got out of it and then were disappointed when they allowed two more runs to score or what.”
The top of Fairmont’s lineup had a big role in their team’s success. Wenninger said throughout play on both days, Luverne struggled to retire the bottom of its opponents’ lineup. That set the table for some big hits from a strong top of the order for Fairmont, which took a 1-0 win over the Cardinals in their regular season meeting on May 2.
That, according to Wenninger, is something you can’t afford to do against a strong-hitting team like Fairmont.
Fairmont’s squad had a successful day on the other side as well, getting strong pitching and defense to hold Luverne off of the scoreboard until the bottom of the seventh, when a comeback was next to impossible.
“Give credit to Fairmont,” Wenninger said. “They were solid defensively and got good pitching. But, I don’t know if we had the right mindset coming out.”
In the bottom of the seventh, Josh Slieter knocked in a pair on a bloop single. Connor Hoffman also drove a run in with a single while Joe Sommers went 1-for-2 on Monday.
Slieter, who pitched the first three-plus innings on Saturday, took the loss for Luverne. Gunnar Olson and Connor Crabtree threw in relief on Monday. Spencher Chirpich took the win for Fairmont, which advanced to the section championship game with the win.
The loss sends Luverne to the elimination bracket, meaning it will have to turn around for another game today. At 7 p.m. tonight, the Cardinals will take on Marshall — which defeated Morris Area/Chokio-Alberta 14-4 on Monday — for the second time in a week. The Southwest Conference rivals split their head-to-head matchups during the regular season before Luverne took a 4-3 victory in the section quarterfinals on May 27.
“It will be a battle,” Wenninger said. “Two Southwest Conference rivals; we split during the season and we were able to sneak away with a one-rune win the third time around. This will just be battle game four.”
R H E
Fairmont 120 350 1 — 12 12 1
Luverne 200 000 3 — 5 6 3