NEW ULM - Mankato National Post 11 left-hander Devin Ries and Fairmont American Legion Post 36 right-hander Bryce Holm locked up in a classic pitcher's duel during Thursday's baseball playoff opener.
Ries and Holm each hurled seven scoreless innings before Post 11 converted one Post 36 error, four hits and two wild pitches in the eighth inning into an eventual 4-1 Division I, 2nd District victory at Johnson Park in New Ulm.
No. 5-seeded Mankato National advances to face No. 1-seeded New Ulm Gold - a 3-2 first-round winner over No. 8-seeded Woodbury - at 2 p.m. today back at Johnson Park.
DIVING BACK — Mankato National Post 11 runner Zach Mullin dives back into first base safely as Fairmont Post 36 first baseman Jack Waletich awaits the pickoff throw during first-round baseball action in Thursday’s Division I, 2nd District, American Legion playoff tournament at Johnson Park in New Ulm. (Photo by Leanna Becker)
No. 4-seeded Fairmont (10-7) plays Woodbury in a 12:30 p.m. elimination game today at Mueller Park in New Ulm.
"Bryce did what he's been doing all season for us - throwing strikes and getting outs. Unfortunately, defensively, we didn't make a couple of plays behind him and it cost us," said Post 36 coach Scott Chirpich. "Offensively, we just couldn't get anything going today. You have to give their pitcher (Ries) credit for keeping us off-balanced, and we didn't make any adjustments to counter him."
No. 9 batter Tyler Stoffel set the table for Mankato National's four-run, shutout-spoiling top of the eighth inning. Stoffel blooped a leadoff single into shallow left that caromed away from the Fairmont outfielder, allowing Stoffel to reach second base.
Stoffel advanced 90 feet on Zach Mullin's sacrifice bunt before Blake Matuska blooped an RBI single into shallow left to plate Stoffel for a 1-0 edge.
Holm issued his only walk of the game to Shane Sellner before Josh Cook drilled an RBI single to left. Evan Ellingworth singled to left to load the bases before Sellner and Cook each scored on wild pitches.
Trailing 4-0 head into the last of the ninth, Holm assisted his own cause by legging out an infield hit to the hole at short before circling the bases on Levi Becker's towering RBI double to deep center.
Jack Waletich supplied Fairmont's third hit via an eighth-inning single.
Holm allowed four runs - only one earned - on eight hits, struck out four, walked one and hit one batter in pitching the nine-inning distance to absorb the loss.
Ries gave up one earned run on three hits, fanned two and did not issue a walk in nine innings of work to earn the complete-game victory for Mankato National.
Cook and Ellingworth each went 2-for-4 on the game, with Ellingworth collecting a triple during the fourth.
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Devin Ries (WP) and Shane Sellner. Bryce Holm (LP) and Andy Reiter.
LOB-Fairmont 4, Mankato National 7. 2B-Levi Becker (F). 3B-Evan Ellingworth (M). SAC-Zach Mullin (M).