Round two of the amateur baseball playoff season exposed some weaknesses in some teams, but revealed strengths in others.
First Nite League and Gopher League teams that survived their league playoff series opened Region 13 competition on Wednesday as Fairmont drilled Pipestone 12-0 in seven innings, Luverne clubbed Adrian 15-1 in seven innings, Hadley beat Windom 5-2 and the Milroy Irish edged Jackson 5-4.
Friday night in 7:30 p.m. games, Fairmont was at Pipestone, Luverne at Adrian and Milroy at Jackson. Windom is at Hadley today (Saturday) in a 2 p.m. start. Game Threes (if necessary) are Sunday at 2 p.m. with Pipestone at Fairmont, Adrian at Luverne, Hadley at Windom and Jackson at Milroy.
Fairmont and Luverne had byes throughout the league playoffs, but both teams seemed not to develop any rust while waiting for their first regional tests.
The Redbirds’ bats were lively against Adrian, and they took advantage of wildness on the part of A’s pitchers.
“We played pretty well. We had 14 hits and 11 walks,” said Luverne’s manager, Brooks Maurer.
Five Redbirds had multiple hits. Skyler Wenninger was 2-for-2 with three RBIs, Phil Paquette was 2-for-2 with one RBI, Codie Zeutenhorst was 2-for-3 with three RBIs, Ben Serie was 3-for-4 with an RBI, and Gage Nath was 2-for-3 and drove in a run.
The Redbirds hope to qualify again for the state tournament after having qualified last year, and Maurer says the team has improved. The team’s core group of hitters is still going strong, and the younger players are gaining experience.
Should it happen, it could be interesting to see Luverne and Fairmont square off in a series. The two teams have yet to play this season, and the Martins have been impressing rivals all summer long.
“I know they’ve been putting up big numbers. And I know they’ve got some really good pitchers, too. I think they’re one of the top 10 teams in the state,” Maurer said.
The tightest game Wednesday was the Milroy-Jackson affair, and no one would be surprised if that one goes the full three games.
“Back and forth all day. Two pretty evenly matched teams,” Jackson manager Scott Bahr said of the one-run contest.
“It came down to mistakes. We’ve won a lot of games this year and we’ve had to play pretty mistake-free to do that. That’s the way we’ve been all year,” Bahr explained. “We made about four or five mistakes. You just can’t make mistakes like that and win. It was throwing a ball to the wrong place or making a base running error, or missing a cutoff man. We’re two teams that are pretty similar. So we’ll see how it goes.”