AMATEUR BASEBALL: Martins beat A’s for top seedFAIRMONT — Producing six runs on five hits and three walks in the bottom of the fifth inning Saturday night, the Fairmont Martins turned a 5-1 deficit into a 7-5 lead and went on to claim a 9-5 victory over the Pipestone A’s in the Region 13C amateur baseball championship game at Herb Wolf Park.
By: Lucas Knutson, Worthington Daily Globe
FAIRMONT — Producing six runs on five hits and three walks in the bottom of the fifth inning Saturday night, the Fairmont Martins turned a 5-1 deficit into a 7-5 lead and went on to claim a 9-5 victory over the Pipestone A’s in the Region 13C amateur baseball championship game at Herb Wolf Park.
Fresh off exciting five-game series wins over Wilmont and Jackson, respectively, Fairmont and Pipestone have each clinched a berth in the prestigious Minnesota Baseball Association Class C State Tournament that begins Friday in Glencoe and Brownton.
Fairmont, which won three straight games over Wilmont to erase a 2-0 series hole, will meet the Region 7C runner-up Winsted Wildcats in the opening round Friday night at Vollmer Field in Glencoe. First pitch is scheduled for 5 p.m.
Pipestone, which prevailed in a back-and-forth series against Jackson that saw the home team win all five games, will take on the Region 7C champion Waconia Lakers in the first round Friday in Glencoe, as well. That game is set for 7:30 p.m., or approximately 30 minutes after the completion of the Fairmont-Winsted contest.
The first two rounds of the elite 32-team tournament follow a single-elimination format, meaning that a team must win its first two games to advance to the double-elimination portion that features just eight teams and is played over Labor Day weekend.
Thirty-seven games will be played before the final two teams square off in the championship matchup, which is scheduled for a 1 p.m. start on Sept. 5 at Barney Tadsen Field in Brownton.
“We are pumped up and looking forward to playing in the state tournament,” Pipestone player/manager Danny Moffitt said. “We have a good group of players on our team and have been playing very well together late in the season and throughout the playoffs. It’s been a lot of fun, and we hope to keep on competing at a high level against some of the best teams in the entire state.”
In addition to determining the region champion, Saturday night’s game also served two other important purposes — state-tournament seeding and draft-pick rights.
Fairmont earned the top pick and selected Luverne’s Brian Beuning, who was originally picked up by Wilmont and pitched a pair of complete games for the Cardinals in the region playoff series against the Martins.
Pipestone picked next and added Wilmont’s Justin Saufley to bolster its pitching staff. Highly-regarded as one of the top hurlers in the region, Saufley had a sparkling record of 10-1 on the mound this season.
Six-run output key in Fairmont’s win
Shaun McGuire, who drove in Jon Ellis with a sacrifice fly for the game’s initial run in the bottom of the first inning, went 3-for-3 with two doubles and a trio of RBIs to lead Fairmont at the plate Saturday.
One of McGuire’s hits was a two-run single in the pivotal fifth inning, as the Martins took control with six runs. Ellis and Max Waletich (2-for-5) ignited that rally with back-to-back bunt singles placed perfectly down the third-base line.
Fairmont’s Aaron Siefken also delivered in the fifth, crushing a two-run double off the right-field fence. Chris Rock chipped in with an RBI single, while Tanner Nawrocki drew two walks, and Jon Wilson coaxed a free pass — helping the Martins take a 7-5 lead.
McGuire doubled and scored in both the sixth and eighth innings, as Adam Schmidt put the ball in play twice — an RBI single in the sixth and a pop fly that was dropped with two outs in the eighth — to increase Fairmont’s advantage to the final 9-5 margin.
Pipestone led 3-1 after the second inning, as the A’s capitalized on a pair of Fairmont errors and scored a trio of runs. Moffitt slammed a two-run home run to left field, and Colin Taubert laced an RBI single to left field, as well.
Matt Paulsen cracked a two-run double — plating Brandan Alfson (single) and Greg Quist (walk) — to right-center in the top of the fifth, extending Pipestone’s lead to 5-1.
Sammy Schneider (fielder’s choice) and Jordan Karels (single) each scored a run in the second inning for Pipestone, while Quist (infield single) and Tyler Rieck (double) both collected a base hit late in the game.
Doug Mead pitched the first 4 1/3 innings for the A’s, exiting during Fairmont’s momentum-changing fifth at-bat. Mead allowed six runs on four hits and four walks while striking out three batters.
Ryan Meulebroeck and Moffitt each pitched in relief, combining to record three strikeouts and surrender three runs on five hits and two walks in the final 3 2/3 innings.
Fairmont’s Ian Bents was credited with the win, pitching the first five innings and finishing with a line that included five runs (three earned), five hits, two walks and three strikeouts.
McGuire then tossed four scoreless frames, notching six strikeouts and giving up just two hits while hitting one batter with a pitch.
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