Cards tame Huskies 7-3: FHS snaps JCC’s 7-game win streakJACKSON — Stringing together five consecutive singles in the top of the third inning Friday afternoon, the Fairmont Cardinals scored four runs to take the lead and then added three more runs in the next two frames to claim a 7-3 victory over the Jackson County Central Huskies in a key non-conference high school baseball game at Wacker Field.
By: Lucas Knutson, Worthington Daily Globe
JACKSON — Stringing together five consecutive singles in the top of the third inning Friday afternoon, the Fairmont Cardinals scored four runs to take the lead and then added three more runs in the next two frames to claim a 7-3 victory over the Jackson County Central Huskies in a key non-conference high school baseball game at Wacker Field.
Luke Becker (3-for-5), Bryce Holm (3-for-4), Spencer Chirpich (2-for-5) and Levi Becker (2-for-3) each had multi-hit days at the plate to spearhead Fairmont’s 12-hit offensive attack, as the Class AA eighth-ranked Cardinals improved to 12-1 overall.
Fairmont leads the South Central Conference standings with a perfect 7-0 record, while JCC (9-3 overall) is currently on top of the Southwest Conference standings with a 7-1 mark. Worthington, which handed Fairmont its only loss back on April 20, is a half-game behind JCC with a 6-1 league record.
“Fairmont is a very good team and they played well today,” summed up JCC head coach Trent Sukalski. “I wish we would have played better than we did, as we committed some costly errors and ran into a few outs on the base paths. But this was a good test for us and showed us a few things that we still need to work on.”
Dustin Pronk and Colyn Hohenstein each delivered an RBI single in the bottom of the second inning to lift the Huskies to an early 2-0 advantage. JCC’s lead could have been larger, but some heads-up defensive plays by Fairmont cut down a trio of base runners in the opening two frames.
“We fielded the ball well and that is certainly a strength of ours,” said Fairmont head coach Todd Sukalski, who is Trent’s older brother. “We are typically pretty solid defensively and we made some very nice plays to help keep JCC from scoring more than they did early on. Another key was the relief pitching performance of Levi Becker, as he came in and really got things settled down for us.”
Mitch Pfingsten started on the mound for the Cardinals, going two-plus innings and exiting after allowing a lead-off single to JCC’s Taylor Christopher in the bottom of the third. Becker entered and shut down the Huskies the rest of the way, allowing just two hits and two walks while fanning four batters over five scoreless innings.
Fairmont’s defense was spot-on throughout the game, committing just one error on a pop fly in foul territory. It started when Ben Kain (third baseman) fired a strike to Levi Becker (catcher) to cut down a runner trying to score from third on a ground ball in the first inning.
Chirpich then made a great play on a grounder deep in the hole from his shortstop position to end the first, and the freshman turned in another gem for the first out in the second inning. Again moving to his right to field a ground ball on an infield single off the bat of Brett Larson, Chirpich threw to Luke Becker (second baseman) to erase a runner straying too far off of second base.
The Huskies did plate a pair of runs in the inning, as Larson advanced to second on a passed ball and scored on Pronk’s run-scoring single to left field. Shadrack Wacker, who was courtesy running for Pronk (pitcher), later scored from second on a run-producing single to left by Hohenstein to put JCC up 2-0.
But the inning ended when Levi Becker threw out a runner trying to steal second base, with Luke Becker applying the tag.
“We tried to be aggressive on the base paths,” Trent Sukalski said. “Give Fairmont credit for making the plays, as they really did a nice job of executing some fundamental things to record some key outs.”
The Cardinals then started to generate some offense in the third. Holm led off with an infield single, and Luke Becker followed with a nicely-placed bunt single down the third-base line.
Chirpich laced a single to right field for Fairmont’s third consecutive hit, and a two-base error on the play allowed him to go all the way to third — with both Holm and Becker scoring to tie the game.
Levi Becker then smacked an RBI single to drive in Chirpich for a 3-2 Cardinals’ lead. Michael Forster made it five straight singles, while a fielder’s choice and a wild pitch later in the frame allowed Becker to cross the plate with Fairmont’s fourth run.
“We hit the ball well throughout the lineup,” Todd Sukalski said. “We put down a couple of nice bunts and legged out some infield hits, as well. All of those little things helped, and it was big to take the lead with a four-run third after JCC put a pair of runs on the board in the second.”
Levi Becker’s RBI triple to right-center plated Luke Becker (fielder’s choice) in the fourth to make it 5-2 Fairmont. Holm and Luke Becker added RBI singles in the fifth to complete the Cardinals’ scoring with a 7-2 lead.
JCC couldn’t get much going offensively from the third through the fifth, but a lead-off triple to left-center by Tanner Menke provided a spark in the sixth.
Zach Copley reached on an infield single two batters later, and Larson lifted an RBI sacrifice fly into center field to plate Menke — trimming the gap to 7-3.
The Huskies’ Phil Buschena drew a lead-off walk in the seventh, but Levi Becker recorded a strikeout and induced a nifty 5-4-3 double play (Kain to Luke Becker to Forster) to end the game.
Pronk (two strikeouts, three walks) pitched 5 2/3 innings for JCC, while Larson retired four of the five batters he faced in 1 1/3 innings of effective relief.
Cooper Moore belted a one-out triple in the first inning for JCC, which plays Maple River on the road today. Fairmont will host Kasson-Mantorville Monday.
R H E
FHS 004 120 0 — 7 12 1
JCC 020 001 0 — 3 7 4