FAIRMONT - The No. 1-seeded Fairmont Martins knew that Brian Beuning could pitch, they drafted him for the state tournament two years ago.
The No. 2-seeded Luverne Redbirds reliever stepped to the mound in the fifth with a one-run lead and struck out eleven on his way to a 13-4 Game 1 win in the best-of-3, 13C Region Finals for Luverne in Fairmont on Wednesday.
The Fairmont Martins (23-5) will now travel to Luverne (20-7) for Game 2 of the series at 7:30 p.m. on Friday.
SLIDING?IN — Fairmont Martin Logan Peymann starts to slide into second base as Luverne shortstop Skyler Wenninger jumps to catch the ball in the amateur baseball 13C Finals on Wednesday at Herb Wolf Field in Fairmont. Luverne went on to win Game 1 of the best-of-3 series 13-4. (Photo by Leanna Becker)
"We really should have scored more runs early," said Fairmont manager Adam Schmidt. "We knew that he was in their bullpen, and we knew how he was capable of pitching, but we weren't able to score more runs and he shut the door."
The Redbirds jumped out early for a 3-0 lead in the first with the help of Phil Paquette's RBI double and designated hitter, Jared Pick's RBI triple.
After scoring a run in the first, the Martins then managed to steal the lead in the second with a three-hit rally.
Levi Becker started out the inning with a hit, before Logan Peymann drove a single to the grass to put runners on first and second.
Jon Ellis beat a grounder to the mound out, while Becker and Peymann both advanced on Luverne starter, Greg Quist's throwing error.
With the bases loaded, Scott Chirpich, who went 2-for-5 from the plate, smacked a double to the outfield to clear the bases and to take the 4-3 lead.
With a pair of runners on in the first inning, the Martins had a chance to even the game early, but were unable to generate offense to score the equalizing runs.
Ellis walked to lead off the opening inning for the Martins before Chirpich pounded his first of two doubles in the game.
Ellis wheeled to third and then cruised home on Shaun McGuire's single through the infield.
"We left lots of runners on in scoring position early on in the game," said Schmidt. "We really should have scored more runs on this team early, but just couldn't get the hits we needed to."
While the Martins' offense was faltering, the Redbirds saw offensive contributions in both the three and four spot of their lineup.
Paquette finished 3-for-6 from the plate with a pair of doubles and four RBIs, while Pick also went 3-for-6 with two runs scored and an RBI triple.
After Joey Slieter led off for the Redbirds with a hit in the top of the first, Beuning's fielder's choice moved Slieter to second.
Paquette then generated his first RBI with a swing for a double, scoring Slieter.
With Paquette on second, Pick sent a blast to the base of the centerfield fence, scoring the second Redbird run.
Pick also scored on the effort, racing home from third on an errant throw from the outfield.
Quist pitched the opening 4 1/3 innings for Luverne, holding Fairmont to just six hits and four runs, striking out three and walking five for the win.
Beuning then locked in the victory with his solid final 4 2/3 innings of relief.
Offensively, Beuning also started what proved to be an explosive final inning for the Redbirds as they scored eight runs to finalize the 13-4 win.
"We know that we can beat these guys in the next game," said Schmidt. "We just need to get some hits with runners on to score and to get another solid pitching performance against a good hitting team."
Shaun McGuire pitched eight innings for the Martins, and after allowing three runs to open the game, allowed 14 hits and struck out three to take the loss in the final seven innings.
Jordan Petschke pitched the final inning for Fairmont, allowing three hits and walking two in relief.
L 300 010 108 - 13 17 1
F 130 000 000 - 4 7 6
Greg Quist (WP), Brian Beuning and Phil Paquette. Shaun McGuire (LP), Jordan Petschke and Logan Peymann.
LOB-Luverne 10; Fairmont 9. 2B-Paquette 2 (L) and Scott Chirpich 2 (F). 3B-Jared Pick (L).