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Amateur baseball: Fairmont pulls away from Wilmont, Jackson wins in 10

Wilmont Cardinal first baseman Nate Ray reaches for a throw to put out a baserunner during Wednesday night’s amateur baseball playoff game in Wilmont. (BRIAN KORTHALS/DAILY GLOBE)

WILMONT — Justin Saufley and Taylor Nawrocki both looked as though they were pitching for their seasons Wednesday night.

Wilmont’s Saufley and Nawrocki, of Fairmont, were both on fire, dueling it out in Game 1 of their best-of-3 Region 13C amateur baseball elimination series. Nawrocki ended up coming out on top, leading the Martins to an 8-0 win and a 1-0 lead in the series.

The series winner qualifies for the state tournament.

In the other area best-of-three series opener Wednesday, Jackson defeated Luverne 6-5 in 10 innings in a battle of two teams that have already qualified for a state berth. The series winner will get the higher seed going into the tournament.

Fairmont 8, Wilmont 0

“I thought we did alright with him,” said Wilmont manager Todd Rogers of the hard-throwing Fairmont righty. “He’s just good. There’s no way around it. He’s just tough.”

Through four innings, neither pitcher had budged. Both had struck out five with Saufley allowing just one hit while Nawrocki had given up two. Until the top of the fifth, no one put more than one runner on in a single half inning.

The Martins used a pair of Wilmont errors to put together the first threat of the game and eventually got the lead for good in the top of the fifth.

Taylor Morris led off the inning with a dribbler for an infield hit that turned into two bases when the Cardinal shortstop overran the ball. The next batter, Dustin Sobolik, reached on another error and Fairmont had something going.

Scott Chirpich lined a solid single up the middle to drive in the game’s first run. Levi Becker followed that by punching a two-run single to right with two outs, giving Nawrocki a comfortable 3-0 lead.

“We had a situation where our shortstop and third baseman didn’t communicate and the ball got between them. That kind of started the whole thing,” Rogers said.

Wilmont got a pair of runners on in the bottom of the inning when Stu Rogers singled and Tyler Hatterman reached on an error. Neither was able to score, however, and Nawrocki settled down after that. He allowed just two baserunners over the final four innings.

The Cardinals’ highlight of the evening happened in the top of the seventh. With two outs, Becker laced a single to right with Chirpich on second. Wilmont’s right fielder, Lucas Henning, came up and threw a dart to his first cousin, Blake Rogers, behind the plate. The throw was in time to retire Chirpich for the final out.

The Martins added four runs in the eighth and one more in the ninth on a solo homer by Shaun McGuire.

Saufley took the loss for Wilmont. He went seven-plus innings and allowed five runs — only one of which was earned — on eight hits, struck out nine and walked one. Nawrocki went all nine for the shutout win. He surrendered just four hits, striking out 11 and walking two.

“Justin threw a good game,” Todd Rogers said. “Fairmont’s just a good team.”

Joe Krivarchka, Jay Scheidt, Stu Rogers and Nick Ahrens had a hit each for the Cardinals. Becker was 2-for-4 with two RBIs for the Martins. Adam Schmidt was 2-for-4 with two doubles and Ian Bents went 1-for-1 with a two-run single.

Wilmont will try to even the series in Game 2 at 7:30 p.m. Friday in Fairmont. Henning will get the start on the mound for Wilmont.

“Hopefully our bats can back him up,” Todd Rogers said. “We’ve gotta hit the ball. You have to score runs no matter what.”


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Wil 000 000 000 — 0 4 4

Jackson 6, Luverne 5 (10 inn.)

JACKSON — Jackson Bulls manager Scott Bahr said the fans in Jackson are starting to think a regulation game goes 10 innings; and who could blame them?

The Bulls played their third straight extra-inning contest Wednesday in their best-of-3 Region 13C championship series opener against Luverne. For the third straight game, Jackson came out on top with a 6-5 victory.

“For those guys to compete that hard every night says a lot about them,” Bahr said of his team. “I told them before the game that I didn’t expect them to have the intensity they had in the (last series) against Fairmont, but they did. Luverne’s one of the best teams in the state so we feel really good about ourselves for beating them.”

For the second straight game, Andy Wolf crossed for the winning run. He drew a two-out walk in the bottom of the 10th and proceeded to steal second. Ryan Rasche followed with a walk of his own to keep the inning alive for Pat Rients. The Southwest Minnesota State standout roped a basehit down the right field line to send Wolf home for the game-winner.

Ray Zalabowski got the win for the Bulls, striking out two in one inning on the mound. Rasche started and went five innings before Tom Hady and Pat Boggess kept the Redbirds at bay. Brian Beuning got the loss in relief, allowing one run in three innings.

Wolf was 3-for-5 with two runs and two RBIs for the Bulls. Rasche, Rients and Mike Wierson had two hits each. Nate Harberts led Luverne, going 4-for-5 with a double and a run scored. Phil Paquette added three hits, two doubles, a run scored and an RBI.

Game 2 will move to Redbird Field in Luverne at 7:30 p.m. Friday.


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Zach Hacker

Zach is the Daily Globe sports reporter. He has previously been a sports editor at both the Waseca County News in Waseca, Minn., and The Emporia Gazette in Emporia, Kansas. He is originally from New Richland, Minn., and now lives in Worthington with his dog; a beagle-corgi mix named Homer. In his spare time he enjoys spending time with family and friends, pontooning on St. Olaf Lake and watching professional and collegiate sports.

(507) 376-7335