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 -- 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.
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.”
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.
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.
“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.
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.
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
Luverne 101 222 04 -- 12-15-0