Prep baseball: Luverne vs. Fairmont game to be continued
MARSHALL — When the Luverne Cardinals continue their Section 3AA semifinal baseball game with Fairmont today, they’ll be trailing 4-2 and trying to wiggle out of a tight spot.
Saturday’s game at Legion Field in Marshall was suspended at a point where Fairmont had the bases loaded with no outs in the top of the fourth inning. When the game resumes today at 4 p.m. in Marshall, Fairmont will be threatening to break it open.
Twice on Saturday, lengthy delays occurred in the LHS-FMS showdown that began amid sunny skies at noon — initially in the second inning due to lightning spotted in the vicinity, then for rain in the fourth that started to be light, and later came down hard. Officials were determined to continue, however, but it was finally suspended after 3:30 p.m. — as more rain fell.
The winner of today’s suspended game will play for the Section 3AA championship Thursday against an opponent yet to be determined.
It’s not going to be easy for Luverne to be that team. LHS starting pitcher Josh Slieter worked himself into trouble in the fourth inning Saturday when he walked the No. 9 batter to begin the frame. Next came a walk to Fairmont’s Jack Waletich, who had already collected two hits in the contest including a solo home run to start the game. Slieter’s rival pitcher, Spencer Chirpich, laid down a beautiful bunt in front of third base to load the bases with nobody out — which brought cleanup hitter Luke Becker to the plate.
Becker, who has hit a state-high nine home runs this spring, watched as Slieter uncorked a wild pitch to force in a run. A few pitches later, he walked, too, loading them up again.
Luverne, the defending Section 3AA champion which earned a consolation championship last June in the state Class AA tournament, had one good offensive inning Saturday against Chirpich. That was in the bottom of the first inning. It began on an overthrow to first base on leadoff hitter Connor Hoffman’s ground ball to short. He was sacrificed to second before Slieter sent a cue shot down the right field line for a double that tied the game at 1-1. Gunnar Olson followed with an RBI single between first and second base that plated the second run.
Fairmont, however, got the two runs back in the top of the second as the left-handed Waletich drilled a 3-2 Slieter offering hard through the middle for an RBI, then Chirpich collected an RBI infield single.
Chirpich settled down on the mound after that, erasing Luverne 1-2-3 in both the second and third innings.