FAIRMONT - Twice the Mankato Nationals baseball team took the lead over Fairmont American Legion Post 36.
And twice Fairmont responded, holding on for Ben Abel's game-winning single to win 4-3 in the bottom of the seventh inning.
With the game tied at 3-3, Nathan Gillis, who was 0-for-2 going into his final at-bat, sent the first pitch he saw to the base of the fence in right centerfield.
SCORING?POSITION? — Fairmont Post 36’s Nathan Gillis (10) slides into third to avoid the tag in the bottom of the seventh inning against the Mankato Nationals at Herb Wolf Field in Fairmont. Mankato’s Hunter catches the throw. Gillis would score the game-winning run as Fairmont downed the Nationals 4-3. (Photo by Leanna Becker)
Gillis motored his way to second for the double and then Kale Fritz came through in his first at-bat of the game.
Fritz grounded out to the first basemen for Fairmont's second out, but the hit moved Gillis to third and into scoring position.
All that was left was Abel's hard hit to left, allowing Gillis to trot home for the game-winning run.
"Our hitters did a good job of adjusting throughout the game," said Fairmont head coach Scott Chirpich. "Nathan Gillis did a great job of coming back and getting that hit, even though he struggled earlier and Ben Abel had a big hit for us."
It was a hard-hit double that helped the Nationals jump out to their 1-0 lead in the top of the second inning.
Alex Goettl sent a blast to right field to lead off the inning and raced to second base.
Hunter Frerick then hit a grounder to the shortstop, allowing Goettl to advance to third.
Another grounder, off the bat of Ryan Theissen to second base, gave Goettl the opportunity to run home to make it a 1-0 game.
The Nationals then doubled their lead in the fourth, going up 2-0.
Shane Sellner led off the inning with a blooper to center, and then Goettl follwed that same idea, hitting the ball to shallow right.
Spencer Chirpich picked up the ball and fired it to second, getting Sellner out on the fielder's choice, but allowing Goettl to reach first.
Fairmont starter Matt Lytle then struck out Frerick in his second at-bat, but a hard-hit ball to right field allowed Goettl to round the bases and touch home for his second run of the game.
In the bottom of the fourth the Fairmont bats came alive.
Luke Becker, who went 2-for-3 in the game, led off the inning with a hard hit grounder to third. Becker beat out the throw, reaching first with a hit.
Parker Monsen then smacked a hit to right putting runners on first and second.
Spencer Chirpich ripped a double to left centerfield, and Becker sprinted home to make it a 2-1 game as Monsen cruised into third.
Jack Waletich hit a grounder to the shortstop for Fairmont's first out of the inning, but it allowed Monsen to score evening the score at 2-2.
The Nationals again took the lead in the sixth, going up 3-2.
Sellner walked to start the rally, before Goettl, who finished 2-for-3 in the game, delivered a hit to right.
With runners on first and second, Frerick had his lone hit of the game, loading up the bases with one out.
Ryan Theissen then notched the RBI, hitting a grounder to Fairmont's first basemen for the out, but allowing Sellner to score the run.
Becker blasted the first pitch he saw in the bottom of the sixth inning to the base of the fence for a triple to give Fairmont some momentum.
Monsen then hit a grounder to the third basemen, allowing Becker the chance to score to tie the game again at 3-3.
Lytle kept the Nationals from getting too much going offensively throughout the game, holding them to just three runs - two earned - on six hits, striking out two in a no decision.
"The last time Matt pitched was against New Ulm in the first game, and that didn't go well," said Scott Chirpich. "So I was glad to see him come back today and he pitched really well and did a nice job."
A one-out double in the top of the seventh and a walk to Devin Ries got Lytle in a jam though, and Nate Johnson stepped in for relief.
Johnson got the final two outs for Fairmont, preserving the tie and with the offensive effort in the bottom of the seventh earned the win.
"Nate did a great job coming in with a pressure situation and getting those outs," said Scott Chirpich. "He did his job and got us out of the jam, and then we were able to get a couple hits and get a win."
Ries pitched all seven innings for the Nationals, allowing four runs on six hits and striking out two in the loss.
Fairmont Legion Post 36 (1-2) travels to play the Mankato Nationals at 5 p.m. on Wednesday in Mankato.
Nationals 101 010 0 - 3 6 0
Fairmont 000 201 1 - 4 6 1
Devin Ries (LP) and Shane Sellner. Matt Lytle, Nate Johnson 7 (WP) and Ben Abel.
LOB-Nationals 6; Fairmont 2. 2B-Alex Goettl (MN); Spencer Chirpich (F) and Nathan Gillis (F). 3B-Luke Becker (F).
Boyden Hull Rock Valley 3, North Union 1 - The Nighthawks scored one run in the third and one in the sixth inning to edge the Warriors 3-1 at the LeMars Gehlen Catholic Tournament on Saturday in Granville, Iowa.
Shane Solberg went 2-for-3, including a double to help pace the Nighthawks' offensive effort.
Dustin Woelber added two hits, while Wyatt Connegreter and Bryce VanBeek each went 1-for-3.
Bradyn Vanvoorst drove in an RBI with a double for his lone hit of the game for the Nighthawks.
Spencer Ricke and Parker Oleson each had hits for the Warriors, while Colin Runksmeier and designated hitter Riley Bauer each added singles.
Cody Runksmeier score the lone North Union run, in addition to pitching six innings and allowing just three runs - two earned - on eight hits, striking out two and walking one to absorb the loss.
Ryan Dolieslager pitched five innings for the Nighthawks, allowing one run on two hits, striking out four to earn the win.