MARSHALL - Fairmont No. 2 batter Luke Becker opted for "old school hitting" - no batting gloves - and the strategy paid huge dividends during Tuesday's Section 3AA baseball playoff game in Marshall.
Becker pounded three extra-base hits, including a pivotal two-run double during a five-run breakout in the bottom of the third inning, to help the Class AA, No. 4-ranked Cardinals tame the Marshall Tigers, 9-5, during a sectional winners-bracket game at American Legion Field.
Fairmont (21-1) advances to face Luverne at noon Saturday back at American Legion Field in Marshall in a battle of postseason undefeateds. Luverne gained the next round via a 4-0 victory over No. 14-ranked Morris Area.
MOTORING?TO?THIRD — Fairmont's Luke Becker slides safely into third base with a triple as Cardinal head coach Todd Sukalski looks on during Section 3AA baseball playoff action on Tuesday at American Legion Field in Marshall. (Photo by Leanna Becker)
Marshall (11-8) faces the winner between Worthington and Pipestone Area in a 7 p.m. elimination game on Thursday in Marshall.
"I was pleased with our offensive performance today. Obviously, Luke had a big day with two doubles and a triple," said Fairmont mentor Todd Sukalski. "I thought the most important bat of the game though was when Marshall intentionally walked Mitch (Pfingsten) to get to Ryan Noll in the fourth. That was big when Ryan put it off the fence for a two-run double."
Holding a 5-1 lead, Luke Becker drilled his second double of the game with one out in the fourth. Pfingsten, who leads the Cardinals on the season with 29 RBIs, then received a two-out intentional walk - his third base-on-balls of the game.
Noll, who's hitting .357 with 19 RBIs, cranked an offering from Tiger right-hander Aaron Mathiowetz off of the left-field fence to plate both Luke Becker and Pfingsten for a 7-1 edge.
Courtesy runner Jordan Voss later traded places with Christian Petschke on the Fairmont first baseman's RBI double before pinch runner Kyle Guetter circled the bases on Jay Ruen's second consecutive RBI single to widen the gap to 9-1.
Fairmont ace right-hander Bryce Holm then displayed his mettle by working around three of his defense's four errors during the fifth and sixth frames to limit the unearned runs to only three.
Holm allowed Leo Zerr's third hit of the game and Aaron Mathiowetz's second single of the night during the Tigers' seventh at-bat, allowing only one run to seal his complete-game victory.
"Our defense didn't make all of the plays today, but Bryce battled fine and pitched a nice game for us," said Sukalski.
Holm allowed five runs - only two earned - on seven hits, struck out six, issued two walks and hit one batter in seven innings of work.
The senior right-hander improved to 6-0 on the season.
Noll and Ruen each produced RBI singles on the heels of Luke Becker's two-run double in the third.
Marshall grabbed an early 1-0 lead when Zerr singled with one out and later scored on Aaron Mathiowetz's RBI single with two outs in the top of the first.
Mathiowetz allowed nine runs - seven earned - on seven hits, struck out three, walked five and hit one batter in 3 2/3 innings to take the loss.
MAR 100 012 1 - 5 7 3
FMT 005 400 x - 9 9 4
Aaron Mathiowetz (LP), Conner Mesman (4) and Colton Peterson. Bryce Holm (WP, 6-0) and Ryan Noll.
LOB-Fairmont 5; Marshall 9. 2B-Luke Becker (F) 2, Noll (F), Christian Petschke (F), Leo Zerr (M), Aaron Mathiowetz (M). 3B-Luke Becker (F). SAC-Spencer Chirpich (F), Levi Becker (F).
Lake Crystal-Wellcome Memorial 4, Martin Luther/Granda-Huntley-East Chain/Truman 1 - The Class A, No. 6-ranked and No. 1 seeded LCWM Knights defeated the No. 4-seeded MLGHECT Knights 4-1 in Section 2A playoff baseball action on Tuesday in Lake Crystal.
The No. 1-seeded Knights (15-5) play host to the No. 3 seed Waterville-Elysian Morristown at 5 p.m. Thursday in Lake Crystal.
The Buccaneers advanced to face Lake Crystal-Wellcome Memorial after defeating No. 2 seed Mankato Loyola 10-0 on Tuesday in Mankato.
The No. 4-seed, MLGHECT (13-6), travels to face the Crusaders at 5 p.m. on Thursday in Mankato.
Bryson Yackel gave up five hits and one earned run, striking out seven and walking one to earn the complete-game victory for the hometown Knights.
Bryan Davis smacked a pair of hits including a double and scored a run for LCWM, while Yackel also contributed an RBI double.
Devon Hagge recorded one hit and scored a pair of runs for the top-seeded Knights.
Dylan Petrowiak drove in Sam Geistfeld with an RBI single for the visiting Knights' lone run in the game.
Jeremy Smith added a pair of hits, while Trent Stensland had one hit in the game.
Stensland pitched three innings, giving up two runs - none earned - five hits, struck out one and hit two batters to take the loss.
Colton Greiner came in and pitched three innings of relief, allowing two runs - one earned - on three hits, striking out one and walking one.
MGT 001 000 0 - 1 5 4
LCWM 020 011 x - 4 8 1
Bryson Yackel (WP) and Jordan Nelson. Trent Stensland (LP), Colton Greiner (4) and Tristan Maday.