FAIRMONT - Jack Waletich and Spencer Chirpich just kept reaching base, while Luke Becker and Tyler Tennyson just kept bringing their teammates home.
Waletich and Chirpich combined to reach base 15 times and scored a dozen runs, while Becker and Tennyson combined for 13 RBIs to pace Class AA No. 4-ranked Fairmont's back-to-back 15-1, five-inning sectional baseball victories on Saturday.
Becker and reliever Clayton Maakestad combined on an opening four-hitter, while Chirpich and reliever Nathan Gillis joined pitching forces on a three-hitter in Game 2 to power the top-seeded Cardinals past No. 8-seeded Jackson County Central and No. 4-seeded St. James, respectively, at Herb Wolf Field in Fairmont.
SWINGING?AWAY — Fairmont’s Tyler Tennyson swings at a deilvery during Section 3AA playoff baseball action on Saturday at Herb Wolf Field in Fairmont. Tennyson and teammate Luke Becker combined for 13 RBIs as the Cardinals beat Jackson County Central and then St. James 15-1. The Cardinals advance to face Morris Area/Chokio/Alberta at 7 p.m. Tuesday at American Legion Ballpark in Marshall. (Photo by Leanna Becker)
Fairmont (20-1) advances to face Morris Area/Chokio-Alberta in a winners-bracket Section 3AA game at 7 p.m. Tuesday at the American Legion ballpark in Marshall. The Tigers opened playoff action with a 7-0 win over Red Rock Central/Westbrook-Walnut Grove before doubling up Benson, 8-4.
St. James (13-8), who started sectional play with a 13-7 win over Pipestone, faces Class AA No. 3-ranked New Ulm in an elimination game at 7 p.m. Tuesday in Windom. New Ulm rolled by Worthington, 13-2 in five innings before falling to defending Section 3 champion and No. 12-ranked Luverne in second-round action, 8-3.
"One of our goals was to get back to Marshall (in the sectional tournament)," said Fairmont mentor Todd Sukalski, whose team extended its winning streak to 20 in a row. "Our entire lineup had quality at-bats during both games today, and our first two guys (Waletich and Chirpich) got on base all day long.
" ... Spencer seems to have more confidence hitting in the No. 2 spot now, while Jack has really evolved into a good leadoff hitter for us."
Waletich, who reached base 7 of 8 times - including going 4-for-5 during the two-game span, achieved a diamond rarity in the Cardinals' opener against JCC. Waletich led off all four of Fairmont's innings during its 10-run rule decision, scoring three runs.
"I've watched a lot of baseball in my time, and I don't think I've ever seen that," Fairmont assistant coach Jerry Brooks said in reference to the Cardinals hitting fully throughout the lineup three straight times and one at-bat short in the fourth.
Tennyson, who went 3-for-4 with a pair of walks, delivered two of his six total RBIs on the two-game span with a single to fuel Fairmont's four-run first at-bat against JCC.
Becker, who went 4-for-6 with seven RBIs on the day, hammered a two-run triple before Tennyson added an RBI double to trigger a five-run second at-bat. Parker Monsen and Ben Abel chipped in an RBI single and a sacrifice fly, respectively.
Becker then supplied a run-scoring infield hit, Tennyson singled in two more runs and Abel delivered an RBI single to ignite the Cardinals' four-run third.
Becker allowed an unearned run on two hits in two innings in Game 1, striking out one to net the win.
Maakestad fanned one in hurling three scoreless innings of two-hit relief to close out the victory over JCC.
Waletich and Chirpich, who reached base all eight times - including an official 6-for-6 hitting, combined for six of Fairmont's runs during its 15-1 Game 2 win over St. James.
Becker's sacrifice fly and Tennyson's RBI fielder's choice staked the Cardinals to an early 2-0 lead before the red-and-white sent 15 batters to the plate during an 11-run second at-bat.
Chirpich singled twice for three RBIs during the double-digit scoring avalanche, Becker tripled and collected three RBIs, while Jay Ruen singled home two more runs.
Abel delivered an RBI double for Fairmont's solo run in the third, before Waletich doubled and crossed the plate on a wild pitch during the Cardinals' fourth at-bat.
Chirpich gave up one unearned run on two hits, struck out four and did not issue a walk in three innings to notch the Game 2 victory.
Gillis notched two strikeouts and did not record a walk in two shutout innings of one-hit relief.
JCC 100 00 - 1 4 2
FHS 454 2x - 15 12 1
Chris Gumto (LP), Scott Christopher (1), Jordan Biehn (4) and Mitchell Macek. Luke Becker (WP), Clayton Maakestad (3) and Ben Abel.
LOB-Fairmont 6; JCC 3. 2B-Tyler Tennyson (F), Shadrach Wacker (JCC). 3B-Luke Becker (F). SF-Abel (F).
STJ 0( 1)0 00 - 1 3 4
FHS 2(11)1 1x - 15 11 2
Derrick Shupe (LP), Justin Stevens (2), John Olsen (3) and Ryan Menssen. Spencer Chirpich (WP), Nathan Gillis (4) and Ben Abel.
LOB-Fairmont 6; St. James 2. 2B-Jack Waletich (F), Abel (F). 3B-Luke Becker (F). SF-Becker (F).
Luverne 12, Blue Earth Area 3 - The No. 3-seeded Cardinals downed the No. 6-seeded Bucs 12-3 during Section 3AA playoff action on Saturday at Mueller Park in New Ulm.
The Cardinals (17-4) then went on to beat the host, No. 2 seed New Ulm 8-3 in the second round to advance in the Section 3AA playoffs.
Luverne advances to face top seeded Marshall at 5 p.m. on Tuesday at American Legion Ballpark in Marshall.
The Marshall Tigers (18-4) advanced in the Section 3AA winner's bracket with a 12-1 five-inning win over New London-Spicer and an 8-0 shut out of Redwood Valley on Saturday.
Blue Earth Area finishes its season with an 8-12 overall record.
Section 2A Playoffs
Martin County West 2, United South Central 1 - The No. 5-seeded Mavericks upset the No. 4-seeded Rebels 2-1 during Section 2A South Sub-Section quarterfinal action on Saturday in Wells.
Martin County West (9-5) travels to play the No. 1 seed Janesville-Waldorf-Pemberton in Sub-Section semifinal action at 5 p.m. on Tuesday in Janesville.
United South Central finishes its season with a 9-5 overall record.
Tony Payne pitched five innings, allowing one run on four hits, striking out one and walking one to earn the win for the Mavericks.
Jake Faber, who went 2-for-4 from the plate, also came in and pitched the final two innings to earn the save. Faber allowed just two hits and struck out four.
Payne added a hit and drove in an RBI to help his own cause, while Micheal Andrews smacked a double.
Alex Saxen blasted an RBI triple in the win for the Mavericks, while Dalton Koenecke added a hit.
Trevor Stencel pitched all seven innings for the Rebels, allowing two runs on six hits and striking out three to absorb the loss.
Stencel also went 3-for-4 from the plate.
MCW 002 000 0 - 2 6 1
USC 010 000 0 - 1 6 1
Mankato Loyola 5, Martin Luther/Granada-Huntley-East Chain/Truman 0 - The No. 2-seed Crusaders' John Fink threw a two-hit shut out to oust the Knights 5-0 during Section 2A South Sub-Section quarterfinal action on Saturday in Mankato.
Mankato Loyola (12-3) advances to host No. 3-seeded Lake Crystal-Wellcome Memorial in Sub-Section semifinal action at 5 p.m. on Tuesday in Mankato.
Martin Luther/Granada-Huntley-East Chain/Truman finishes its season with a 3-15 record.
Fink threw seven innings and allowed just two hits, striking out nine and walking four to earn the victory.
Alex Weihe broke up the no hitter in the seventh inning with a double, before Colton Greiner smacked a single for the Knights second hit of the game.
Trent Stensland drew three of Fink's four walks in the game.
Will Cipos and Shane Sellner each swang the bat for extra base hits to provide offense to Fink's stellar pitching effort.
Cipos smacked a double and scored two runs in the game, while Sellner ripped two doubles to drive in two RBIs and scored a run.
Sam Geistfeld pitched five innings for the Knights, allowing five runs - three earned - on seven hits, striking out eight and hitting two batters to absorb the loss.
Stensland pitched the final inning, striking out one.
MLGHECT 000 000 0 - 0 2 3
M. Loyola 030 020 x - 5 7 2
Sam Geistfeld (LP), Trent Stensland (6) and Tristan Maday. John Fink (WP) and Shane Sellner.