FAIRMONT - Luke Becker drew a walk-off bases-loaded walk with one out in the bottom of the seventh inning as Fairmont squeezed by St. James, 2-1, during Thursday's South Central Conference baseball clash at Herb Wolf Field in Fairmont.
Becker's keen eye in the batter's box helped the Cardinal senior right-hander reap the reward for his complete-game pitching performance. Becker allowed one earned run on six hits, struck out four, issued one walk and hit one batter in seven innings of work to earn the winning decision.
"We played a tough team (St. James), so it doesn't matter how we won - we'll take it," said Fairmont mentor Todd Sukalski. "Both starting pitchers - Luke and (the Saints') Walker Froehling - were really on their games today."
TAGGED OUT — Fairmont catcher Ben Abel tags out St. James runner Tyler Witcraft at the plate during second-inning South Central Conference baseball action Thursday at Herb Wolf Field in Fairmont. Cardinal third baseman Jay Ruen made the relay throw to the plate. (Photo by Charlie Sorrells)
Sukalski's postgame analysis proved as accurate as a Becker delivery as Froehling proved an equal adversary on the mound. The Saints' senior right-hander allowed just one earned run on three hits, struck out four, walked two and hit one batter in five near-flawless frames to receive no decision.
Tied at 1 apiece, Nathan Gillis greeted St. James reliever Justin Stevens with a leadoff single to center in the bottom of the seventh.
Stevens then issued back-to-back walks to Cole Emler and Spencer Chirpich to load the bases with no outs.
Saints mentor Jon Wilson pulled his infielders in and the strategy paid instant dividends when shortstop David Bradley gloved Tyler Tennyson's grounder and pegged a strike to catcher Ryan Menssen for a forceout.
Becker then stepped to the plate and drew the game-winning RBI walk to bring Emler home with the decisive run.
"Gilly (Gillis) did a nice job of leading off the seventh with a single before our hitters demonstrated a lot of patience at the plate by working out three walks," said Sukalski.
Fairmont loaded the bases against Stevens in the home half of the sixth, but stranded three of its nine runners on the game when the Saints' reliever notched his only strikeout of the game.
Jay Ruen and Jack Waletich produced back-to-back hits with two out in the Cardinals' sixth at-bat before Ben Abel walked.
Ruen, Waletich and Abel - Fairmont's Nos 4-5-6 batters - combined offensive forces in the second to account for the home team's first run.
Ruen was hit by a pitch, wheeled to third on Waletich's single to right-center and scored on Abel's RBI single to right.
St. James, however, struck first on the scoreboard during the top of the first inning. Ryan Menssen hammered a leadoff double to deep center and scored on Froehling's RBI single to center.
Becker worked out of the first when shortstop Spencer Chirpich triggered a 6-4-3 double play. Third baseman Jay Ruen then prevented the Saints from reaching home in the second by taking left fielder Jack Waletich's throw on Stevens' single and firing a strike to catcher Ben Abel for the putout at the plate.
Waletich went 2-for-3 for the Cardinals, while Menssen went 2-for-3 with a run scored for the Saints.
Fairmont (3-1, 1-1 SCC) plays host to St. Peter on Monday, while St. James (2-1, 1-1) plays host to St. Clair.
St. James 100 000 0 - 1 6 0
Fairmont 010 000 1 - 2 6 0
Winning run scored with one out in the bottom of the seventh inning.
Walker Froehling, Justin Stevens (6, LP) and Ryan Menssen. Luke Becker (WP) and Ben Abel.
LOB-Fairmont 9; St. James 4. 2B-Menssen (SJ). SAC-David Bradley (SJ).
Nate Johnson combined a strong pitching performance with extra-base hitting from the batter's box to help guide Fairmont to a 4-3 victory over St. James during junior varsity action Thursday in Fairmont.
Johnson allowed three runs - one earned - on four hits, struck out four and walked three in six innings of work to earn the victory. Carter Lloyd walked one in one shutout inning of hitless relief to earn the save.
Johnson also went 2-for-3, including a double and a triple, offensively to generate two RBIs for the Cardinals.
Mark Washa, Kale Fritz, Ryan Brooks and Eli Green each supplied a hit for Fairmont (3-1), which plays host to St. Peter on Monday.
Leyton Becker singled home Dylan Peterson with the game-winning run in the bottom of the seventh inning to help Fairmont edge St. James, 4-3, during C-squad action Thursday in Fairmont.
Justin Schwieger collected three hits to top the Cardinals' offense, Cory Lyons contributed two hits, while Matt Larson doubled. Christian Engeman and Dylan Gerken each added singles.
Lyons struck out one in pitching the seventh inning to net the win for Fairmont. Larson started on the hill, giving up two earned runs on three hits in four innings of work. Larson struck out three en route to receiving no decision.
Cody Freese allowed two runs - one earned, and struck out two in two innings of relief for the Cardinals.
Fairmont (1-1) plays host to St. Peter on Monday.