FAIRMONT - Jay Ruen's shutdown pitching performance, combined with teammate Luke Becker's clutch hitting, engineered the Fairmont VFW Post 1222 baseball lineup's 8-1 victory over Sleepy Eye Post 800 during Game 1 of Monday night's twinbill in Fairmont.
Sleepy Eye, however, unleashed a dozen hits - including four for extra bases - during the nightcap and withstood Fairmont's late comeback to exit Herb Wolf Field with an 11-10 Game 2 win to salvage a split decision.
"I thought Jay gave us an outstanding pitching performance in the first game, while Luke hit the ball with authority again," said Fairmont head coach Todd Sukalski. "In the second game, we gave away too many runs (11 stranded runners), but it was good to see our guys make a nice comeback after trailing by as much as 11-3."
FIRING STRIKES — Fairmont VFW Post 1222 starting pitcher Jay Ruen delivers a strike during Game 1 of a baseball doubleheader against Sleepy Eye on Monday night at Herb Wolf Field in Fairmont. Fairmont third baseman Cole Emler (background) watches the pitch. Photo by Kjersten Baxter
Ruen, however, only needed a pair of runs in the opener to earn the complete-game victory. The hard-throwing right-hander fired a three-hitter, allowing just one run to Sleepy Eye via David Suprenant's RBI triple during the top of the third.
While Ruen was recording eight strikeouts in seven innings of work on the hill, the Post 1222 batting order erupted for five runs during the bottom of the second inning.
Nate Johnson lined a one-out single, Parker Monsen was hit by a pitch and Michael Hawkins drew a walk to load the bases. Becker hammered an offering from Suprenant to deep left-center to clear the bases with a three-run triple. Becker later beat the throw to plate on Ruen's RBI fielder's choice before Ben Abel singled. Ruen's stolen base and an error later led to Bailey Koppen's RBI groundout and a 5-0 lead.
Becker then utilized his Mercurial speed to manufacture a solo run for Fairmont in the fourth. He legged out a leadoff infield hit, stole second and third, and later crossed the plate on a wild pitch.
Jonathon Soucek's pinch-hit single triggered Post 1222's two-run outburst in the fifth as Sleepy Eye later committed two of its six Game 1 errors to create a seven-run deficit for the visitors.
Ruen worked around a two-out walk in the top of the seventh inning by fielding his position - the last of four gloved comebackers - to seal his complete-game victory.
Becker went 3-for-4 with three RBIs and scored two runs to highlight Fairmont's seven-hit effort in the opener.
Fairmont pounced to an early 3-1 edge in Game 2 only to watch Sleepy Eye counter with four runs in the top of the third and six more in the fourth to build an 11-3 lead.
Jack Waletich produced an RBI fielder's choice on the heels of one of Post 800's five Game 2 errors and a walk before Becker singled and Ruen deposited an RBI triple over the right fielder's head during Post 1222's second at-bat.
Jake Mielke's leadoff single, Brandon Helget's two-run bloop double down the left-field line two batters later and Matt Berkner's run-scoring single highlighted Sleepy Eye's four-run third en route to a 5-3 lead.
John Mangen's RBI double and Jon Kopacek's two-run double, combined with three of Fairmont's five Game 2 errors led to a six-run top of the fourth and eight-run margin.
Post 1222 took advantage of one hit batter, two walks and two Post 800 miscues in the fourth to manufacture four runs to trim the gap to 11-7.
After Monsen pitched two scoreless and hitless innings of relief in the sixth and seventh, Fairmont generated three hits to score three runs during the last of the seventh to whittle the gap to 11-10.
Monsen lined a leadoff single, Becker walked and Abel hammered a two-run triple to deep center. Abel later scored on Koppen's RBI groundout before Josh Eversman lashed a two-out double to right. Mielke preserved Sleepy Eye's win by gloving a comebacker to end the game.
Abel, Josh Eversman and Monsen each collected two hits for Fairmont in Game 2, with Becker going 1-for-3 with three runs scored.
Berkner went 3-for-4 with one RBI to pace Sleepy Eye in the nightcap, while Suprenant and Helget each collected two hits, with Helget driving in two runs and scoring twice. Suprenant also scored twice, while Jon Kopacek doubled in four at-bats to generate three RBIs.
Mangen allowed seven runs - zero earned - on four hits, struck out four, walked four and hit two batters in four frames to net the win for Sleepy Eye.
Becker gave up 11 runs - five earned - on 12 hits, fanned four, hit two batters and walked one in five innings to take the loss.
Fairmont (10-8) faces Mapleton at 6:30 p.m. today in Minnesota Lake.
SE 001 000 0 - 1 3 6
FMT 050 120 x - 8 7 0
David Suprenant (LP), Elliot Braun (4) and Mike Hirsch. Jay Ruen (WP) and Luke Becker.
LOB-Fairmont 6; Sleepy Eye 5. 2B-Brandon Helget (SE). 3B-Becker (F), Suprenant (SE).
SE 104 600 0 - 11 12 5
FMT 030 400 3 - 10 9 5
John Mangen (WP), Jake Mielke (5) and Mike Hirsch. Luke Becker (LP), Parker Monsen (6) and Ben Abel.
LOB-Fairmont 11; Sleepy Eye 6. 2B-Josh Eversman (F), Brandon Helget (SE), Mangen (SE), Jon Kopacek (SE). 3B-Jay Ruen (F), Abel (F), David Suprenant (SE). SF-Hirsch (SE).