NEW ULM - Matt Lytle pitched nine stellar innings and delivered the eventual game-winning run during a five-run top of the 10th inning to steer Fairmont VFW Post 1222 to a one-run marathon playoff victory over Sleepy Eye Post 800 on Friday in New Ulm.
Lytle allowed only one run while scattering eight hits on the mound, and singled home Fairmont's final two runs from the batter's box to pace a 6-5 extra-inning 2nd District Tournament elimination-game victory at Mueller Park.
Dassel Post 906, however, ended Fairmont's postseason baseball run by producing an 8-0 victory over Post 1222 during Friday's second elimination game back at Mueller Park.
PLAY AT THE PLATE — Fairmont VFW Post 1222 runner Luke Becker (11) nears the plate as Sleepy Eye Post 800 catcher Mike Hirsch catches the incoming throw during a 2nd District elimination baseball game Friday at Mueller Park in New Ulm. Becker scored on the play as the baseball got away from Hirsch. Photo by Charlie Sorrells
Dassel starting pitcher Tom Halonen hurled a two-hit complete-game shutout on the strength of eight strikeouts and four walks in seven innings of work.
Josh Eversman and Nate Johnson collected Post 1222's only hits against Post 906.
Dassel advances to face Hastings Post 1210 - an 8-6 winner over Hutchinson - at 4 p.m. today at Johnson Park in New Ulm in yet another elimination game.
Fairmont ended its season with a 16-13 record.
"I thought Matt (Lytle) pitched an outstanding game for us in today's first game," said Post 1222 mentor Todd Sukalski.
Ironically, Sukalski had originally planned for Lytle to work seven innings, but the right-hander's pitching arm felt good enough to hurl the eighth and ninth frames, keeping Fairmont in the 1-all pitcher's duel.
Lytle and Sleepy Eye right-hander Jon Kopacek held their opposing offenses in check before Post 1222 capitalized on Post 800's costly error with two out in the top of the 10th.
Spencer Chirpich hit a grounder between the first baseman's legs before Luke Becker singled and Jay Ruen walked to load the bases for Fairmont. Josh Eversman drilled a pivotal two-run single to left to snap the 1-all tie before Trason Arens drew a walk to end Kopacek's pitching stint.
Sleepy Eye reliever John Mangen issued a bases-loaded walk to Ben Abel before Lytle blooped a key two-run single into left field to stake Post 1222 to a 6-1 edge entering the last of the 10th.
Sleepy Eye leadoff batter Brandon Helget, however, collected his third hit of the game - a leadoff single - before Fairmont reliever Nate Johnson issued walks to Dylan Owens and Lucas Heiderscheidt to load the bases.
Johnson got a shallow flyout, but Kopacek and Matt Berkner followed with RBI singles to narrow Post 800's gap to 6-3 and caused Sukalski to bring Luke Becker to the hill with a 2-0 count on Sam Hirschboeck. Becker completed the bases-loaded walk before allowing Carter Krzmarzick's RBI groundout as Sleepy Eye inched within 6-5.
Becker, however, got a flyout to right fielder Parker Monsen to preserve the one-run playoff victory. Becker earned the save for Lytle, who recorded three strikeouts and issued two walks in nine innings of work to notch the victory.
Kopacek allowed six runs - only one earned - on 10 hits, struck out six and walked four in 9 2/3 innings of work to take the loss.
Abel went 3-for-4 with one RBI to top Fairmont's 11-hit effort, Trason Arens went 2-for-4 and scored a pair of runs, while Chirpich contributed a double.
Bailey Koppen produced Post 1222's solo run in the fourth with an RBI single that plated Arens, who had singled and reached second on Abel's infield hit.
Brandon Helget and Kopacek each produced three hits to top Sleepy Eye's 11-hit effort, with Helget doubling and Kopacek driving in a run. Berkner contributed a 2-for-5 performance including a double and one RBI, while Heiderscheidt chipped in a sacrifice fly and a sacrifice bunt.
FMT 000 100 000 5 - 6 11 1
SE 000 010 000 4 - 5 11 1
Matt Lytle (WP), Nate Johnson (10), Luke Becker (10, Sv) and Ben Abel. Jon Kopacek (LP), John Mangen (10) and Mike Hirsch.
LOB-Fairmont 8; Sleepy Eye 11. 2B-Brandon Helget (SE), Matt Berkner (SE), Spencer Chirpich (F). SF-Lucas Heiderscheidt (SE). SAC-Heiderscheidt (SE).
FMT 000 000 0 - 0 2 5
DAS 020 420 x - 8 11 1
Josh Eversman (LP), Parker Monsen (5) and Ben Abel. Tom Halonen (WP) and Garrett Lueders.