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Redbirds roost on Fairmont in Final Four amateur opener

The Luverne Redbirds defeated Fairmont 12-2 in eighth innings Wednesday in the first game of their Final Four amateur baseball playoff series

Luverne right fielder Cade Wenninger makes a diving catch as center felder Gaige Nath watches Wednesday night in the Redbirds' amateur baseball playoff game against Fairmont.
Luverne right fielder Cade Wenninger makes a diving catch as center felder Gaige Nath watches Wednesday night in the Redbirds' amateur baseball playoff game against Fairmont.
Tim Middagh / The Globe
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LUVERNE -- Slowly but surely, the Luverne Redbirds put more and more distance between themselves and the Fairmont Martins Wednesday night in the first game of their Region 13C Final Four baseball series.

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After scoring single runs in the first and third innings, the Redbirds scored two apiece in each of the fourth, fifth and sixth frames. When, after Fairmont finally got to Luverne’s starting pitcher, Jake Haugen, for two runs in the seventh, the home team plated four in the eighth to end the game 12-2 on the mercy rule.

Haugen, who also drove in a pair of runs with a pair of sacrifice flies while batting for himself, was in firm command on the pitcher’s mound. He sent the Marlins down in order four times and went the distance on a six-hitter. He walked only one batter and struck out seven.

“I felt good,” he said afterward. “Probably the best I’ve felt this year. Pretty much all three pitches (fastball, curve and slider) were working for the entire game.”

Luverne Redbirds bullpen line up for hi fives after Phil Paquette (2) tags back and scores a run on a secrafise long high ball to the Fairmont Martians out field during a Final Four Region 13C amateur baseball game in Luverne Wednesday evening.
Players in the Luverne Redbirds dugout congratulate Phil Paquette (2) after he scores a run against the Fairmont Martins in Luverne Wednesday night.
Tim Middagh / The Globe

With Luverne up 1-0 in the best-of-three series in the effort to qualify for the Minnesota state Class C amateur tournament, the next game was scheduled for Friday night (Aug. 5) in Fairmont. Results were not available at press deadline.

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All of the Redbirds, said Haugen on Wednesday, are focused on not just returning to state, but participating right up to the final day. Last year the team was ousted in the first round.

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“It’s kind of a different atmosphere this time of year. You get juiced up for these games. … (Fairmont) has got hitters all the way through. You can’t really let up or take it easy,” Haugen said.

Fairmont was impressive in dispatching a higher seed, Windom, in its previous Region 13C playoff series. But the Martins were no match Wednesday against Haugen and the Redbirds’ outstanding hitting lineup, which produced 15 hits against Fairmont pitchers Tyler Tennyson and Jack Hested.

Luverne Redbirds Ethan Beyer makes it safe to first base after Fairmont Martians first baseman Jack Kosbab  misses the catch during a Final Four Region 13C amateur baseball game in Luverne with the  Fairmont Martins Wednesday evening.
Luverne's Ethan Beyer makes it safe to first base after Fairmont Martins first baseman Jack Kosbab misses the catch.
Tim Middagh / The Globe

One-out singles by Phil Paquette and Skyler Wenninger, and then a sacrifice fly by Ben Serie, put Luverne on the board in the first. Haugen’s first sacrifice fly scored another in the third.

In the fourth, Paquette doubled home a run and later scored from third on a passed ball. In the fifth, consecutive two-out RBI doubles by Ethan Beyer and Gage Nath scored the runs. In the sixth, Haugen hit his second RBI sacrifice fly and Cade Wenninger followed later with an RBI single.

Hadley joins Luverne, Fairmont, Milroy Irish in region's final four.

Fairmont finally got on the board when Jack Kosbab -- the game’s “designated beer batter” -- disappointed the home-town fans hoping for a better deal on suds, and stroked a two-out two-run single.

The game’s festivities ended with the Redbirds’ four-run eighth. Nath, the last batter in the Redbirds lineup, was hit by a pitch to force in the first run. Lead-off hitter Derek Lundgren scored the second run with a sacrifice fly. Paquette hit an RBI single and Skyler Wenninger hit a sizzling RBI single to left field.

Fairmont 000 000 20 -- 2-6-2

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Luverne 101 222 04 -- 12-15-0

Related Topics: BASEBALL
Doug Wolter joined the Worthington Globe in December of 1983 as a sports reporter. He later became sports editor, and then news editor and managing editor. In 2006 he moved to Mankato with his wife, Sandy, and served as an editor at the Mankato Free Press. In 2013 he and Sandy returned to Worthington to take up the job of sports editor at The Globe, and they have been in Worthington since.

Doug can be reached at dwolter@dglobe.com.
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