FAIRMONT - The heart of the Fairmont American Legion Post 36 baseball team's batting order accounted for seven of eight hits and five of seven runs on Thursday night.
No. 3 hitter Levi Becker scored three runs to complement two hits, cleanup batter Jay Ruen went 2-for-3 with one run scored and one RBI, while No. 5 batter Ryan Noll produced three hits, one RBI and one run to power Fairmont's 7-2 regular-season triumph over Worthington Post 5 at Herb Wolf Field.
"Once again, our 3-4-5 guys did a great job setting the table for us offensively," said Fairmont head coach Scott Chirpich. "From a pitching standpoint, (starter) Bryce (Holm) and (reliever) Luke (Becker) did what they've been doing all season - they threw a lot of strikes and worked a number of quick innings."
DELIVERING STRIKES — Fairmont American Legion Post 36 starting pitcher Bryce Holm delivers a strike during regular-season baseball action against Worthington on Thursday night at Herb Wolf Field in Fairmont. (Photo by Leanna Becker)
Ironically, Worthington manufactured a solo run in the top of the first inning before Holm settled into a smooth and efficient pitching rhythm.
Leadoff batter Alex Hayenga singled to right, advanced 90 feet on Aaron Pavelko's sacrifice bunt, wheeled to third on a wild pitch and crossed the plate on Blake Rogers' sacrifice fly to stake Post 5 to an early 1-0 lead.
Worthington's narrow margin held up until Fairmont combined three hits with three Post 5 errors to generate five runs in the bottom of the fourth against the third of the visitors' seven-pitcher revolving-door rotation on the nine-inning clash.
Levi Becker, Ruen and Noll lined three consecutive singles, with Noll's hit tying the game at 1-all. Ruen crossed the plate when Christian Petschke's right-side grounder was mishandled before Noll sprinted home on Jordan Voss' RBI fielder's choice.
Ben Gratz walked before Spencer Chirpich's grounder to short was bobbled and thrown away trying for a force at second base to allow Voss to cross. Gratz then trotted home on Luke Becker's sacrifice fly to left for a 5-1 lead.
Post 36 added a solo run in the fifth when Levi Becker singled, motored to third on Ruen's single inside the right-field line and scored when Noll's grounder was mishandled.
Levi Becker scored again in the seventh when he drew a walk, swiped second and sprinted to third on the overthrow, before stepping on the plate via Ruen's sacrifice fly to right.
Holm struck out five without issuing a walk in five frames of work to earn the pitching victory. The right-hander allowed one earned run on two hits.
Luke Becker stepped to the hill in the sixth, notching five strikeouts without registering a walk in working three innings. Becker allowed one earned run on four hits.
Noll then allowed one hit and issued one walk in closing out the ninth inning for Fairmont.
Luke Becker added Post 36's other hit.
Tyler Haberman and Ryan Lee each delivered two hits to top Worthington's seven-hit performance, with Lee producing a double.
Mitchell Baumhoefner allowed five runs - only two earned - on three hits and walked one in pitching the fourth frame to receive the loss for Post 5.
Fairmont (10-5) plays host to New Ulm Gold at 8 p.m. Monday at Herb Wolf Field to close out the regular season.
Post 36 opens Division I, 2nd District Tournament action at 12:30 p.m. Thursday, July 25, at Johnson Park in New Ulm. No. 4-seeded Fairmont faces No. 5-seeded Mankato National.
WOR 100 000 010 - 2 7 3
FMT 000 510 10x - 7 8 2
Nathan Ray, Jordan Bertrand (3), Mitchell Baumhoefner (4, LP), Deron Soderholm (5), Lucas Henning (6), Blake Rogers (7), Logan Rogers (8) and Blake Rogers, Ryan Lee (6). Bryce Holm (WP), Luke Becker (6), Ryan Noll (9) and Levi Becker.
LOB-Fairmont 5, Worthington 10. 2B-Noll (F), Ryan Lee (W). SF-Luke Becker (F), Jay Ruen (F), Blake Rogers (W). SAC-Holm (F), Aaron Pavelko (W).