ST. JAMES - Spencer Chirpich, Jay Ruen and Trason Arens literally packed a lethal 1-2-3 punch for the Fairmont VFW Post 1222 batting order during first-round baseball playoff action Thursday.
Fairmont's first three batters combined to reach base an incredible 12 times, scored eight runs and collected eight hits during 2nd District, Southwest Sub-District action in St. James.
Arens went 4-for-4 with a double and three RBIs to complement two runs scored, while Chirpich went 3-for-5 with three runs scored to top Post 1222's 12-2 victory over Blue Earth Post 4580.
ANTICIPATION — Fairmont VFW Post 1222 runners Parker Monsen (2) and Spencer Chirpich (second from right) lead off from third and second base, respectively, while Blue Earth Post 4580 third baseman Seth Anderson (left) and shortstop Luke Schavey anticipate a play at the plate during 2nd District, Southwest Sub-District playoff baseball action Thursday in St. James. Photo by Charlie Sorrells
Fairmont (13-9) advances to face St. James at 7 p.m. tonight in St. James, while Blue Earth plays Wells in an elimination game at 2 p.m. today in St. James.
"I thought Josh (Lindquist) pitched well today," Post 1222 mentor Todd Sukalski said in reference to his right-handed reliever's four-hit performance over five frames.
Lindquist allowed two runs - only one earned - while striking out one and walking two to earn the win. Ruen started on the mound, striking out two in two scoreless and hitless innings.
"It's really nice having Spencer back in the lineup," Sukalski said in reference to his shortstop, who missed about a month of the VFW season due to an injury. "It's great to see him making the plays at short and hitting line-drives at the plate.
"Trason continues to swing a hot bat for us, too."
Fairmont built an early three-run lead in the top of the first inning. Chirpich singled to center to open the game before circling the bases on Ruen's towering RBI double to straightaway center. Ruen then trotted home on Aren's hard-hit single to right.
Arens reached third base on back-to-back walks to Ben Abel and Josh Eversman before crossing the plate on Cole Emler's RBI fielder's choice for a 3-0 edge.
Post 1222 then manufactured two runs in the second and a solo run during the third to double its margin.
Chirpich drilled a one-out single, stole second, advanced 90 feet on a balk and later scored on a wild pitch. Ruen, who had walked, later slid home via a wild pitch in the second.
Emler, who reached on an error in the top of the third, swiped second base before eventually motoring home on Parker Monsen's RBI bloop single.
Arens then delivered a key two-run single with one out during the top of the fifth to widen Post 1222's lead to 8-0. Monsen, who had walked, and Chirpich, who had singled, scored on Arens' deep drive to right.
Blue Earth, however, answered with a solo run in the home half of the fifth to spoil Fairmont's shutout bid. Kolt Gorg hammered a one-out double into the left-field corner before scoring on Kellen Jacobs' RBI single to left.
Matt Lytle delivered an RBI single for Fairmont in the sixth before Blue Earth's Luke Schavey singled and eventually scored with Seth Anderson's hot grounder was mishandled in the home half of the inning.
Abel produced an RBI double, Michael Hawkins contributed an RBI fielder's choice and Lindquist delivered a run-scoring single in the seventh to cap Fairmont's winning ways.
Quinn Huisman added a hit for Post 4580.
Alex Stewart started on the hill for Blue Earth, allowing five earned runs on four hits in 1 1/3 innings of work to take the loss. Stewart fanned two and walked five.
FMT 321 021 3 - 12 12 2
BE 000 011 0 - 2 4 5
Jay Ruen, Josh Lindquist (3, WP) and Ben Abel. Alex Stewart (LP), Quinn Huisman (2), Jack Kennedy (6) and Kellen Jacobs.
LOB-Fairmont 12; Blue Earth 5. 2B-Jay Ruen (F), Trason Arens (F), Ben Abel (F), Kolt Gorg (BE).