MARSHALL -- For the second time in less than a week, Paynesville Area defeated Luverne in the Section 3AA baseball tournament.
The teams met last Saturday in the semifinals, with the Bulldogs winning, 5-0. That sent the Cardinals to an elimination game.
Thanks to a walk-off hit by Ben Serie in Luverne’s 3-2 win over Fairmont on Tuesday, the Cardinals had another shot at Paynesville.
On Thursday, the Bulldogs prevailed again -- this time by a score of 4-0 -- to punch their ticket to the state tournament. The Class AA state tournament begins June 13 at Dick Putz Field in St. Cloud.
In both games, Paynesville’s Grady Fuchs had the Cardinals’ number. On Thursday, he allowed no runs on one hit and struck out four in seven innings. In 14 innings against Fuchs, the Cardinals have managed no runs and just five hits.
“He did a very good job,” LHS head coach Mike Wenninger said. “He attacks the strike zone. We didn’t do anything to intimidate him or take him off his game. He could just keep hammering the strike zone, which he did with a nice fastball and a good curveball. We hit the ball hard a few times, but it was directly at their players.”
Serie had a double in Thursday’s game for the lone LHS hit. He started on the mound and allowed two earned runs on three hits, walked four and struck out three. Jake Haugen threw the final three and two-thirds innings. He allowed no runs on four hits and struck out two.
“We became more of a streaky hitting team toward the end of season,” Wenninger said. “We’d get seven or eight hits one game and then down to two or three the next. In playoff time, you want to get timely hitting and today, their pitcher did a nice job of controlling that.”
Levi Blast had two singles for the Bulldogs.
For the Cardinals, they end with a 21-4 record and will lose seven seniors.
“You always want to end your season with a win,” Wenninger said. “We have a good group of seniors who have carried us. A lot of them played as sophomores, their junior season and now all these seniors contributed to this year’s team. They are a good group and hopefully our younger players learn a little something from them.”
Luverne 000 000 0 -- 0 1 3
Paynesville Area 103 000 x -- 4 7 0