Wednesday was a day for tight ball games in the Final Four amateur baseball playoffs. Fairmont trimmed the Milroy Irish 5-4, and Hadley defeated Luverne 6-5.
The results gave the Martins and the Buttermakers 1-0 leads in their best-of-three series. At 7:30 p.m. on Friday, Milroy was at Fairmont for Game 2. Today at 2 p.m., Luverne is at Hadley.
Playoff winners qualify for state. The losers play each other for a third state tournament spot.
Three Windom pitchers were picked up by the competing teams in the draft. Collin Lovell was selected by Milroy, Kobe Lovell by Fairmont, and Gilbertson by Hadley. Pipestone’s Brandan Alfson was taken by Luverne.
The third games of both series (if needed) are set for Sunday at 2 p.m. Fairmont is at Milroy and Hadley at Luverne.
Fairmont recorded seven solid innings from Josh Smith in the Martins’ victory over the Irish.
The Buttermakers got a boost from a draftee Wednesday night as the Pirates’ Luke Gilbertson pitched six and one-third innings to earn the win. Max Zwart had two hits and two RBIs while earning the save in a 2.2-inning relief performance. Teammate Blake Rogers delivered a big first-inning blow, a 3-run home run. He had three hits in the game.
“We ended the game with 11 hits. We didn’t string ‘em together at the right time,” said Redbirds manager Brooks Maurer.
Wednesday’s Hadley-Luverne game marked the second series in a row that Luverne gave up a three-run home run in the first inning. The Birds started slow in their third game against Jackson in the previous series, allowing two in the first before winning eventually, 4-3.
In their last four playoff games, just one run spelled the difference for the Redbirds.