FAIRMONT - Reliever Tyler Tennyson thwarted Blue Earth's bases-loaded fifth-inning threat before Fairmont's bats produced four runs in the sixth during Sunday's VFW baseball showdown at Herb Wolf Field in Fairmont.
Tennyson notched six strikeouts in 2 2/3 innings of scoreless and hitless relief, while Nathan Gillis' two-run double capped host Post 1222's late offensive barrage to eclipse Blue Earth Post 4580 for the Southwest Sub-District crown, 7-2.
Both Fairmont (11-4) and Blue Earth (12-7) advance to the 2nd District Tournament in Mankato. Fairmont faces the Southeast District runner-up at 7:30 p.m. Thursday at Franklin Rogers Field, while Blue Earth plays the Southeast District champion at 7:30 p.m. Thursday at Mankato East's diamond.
QUICK FLIP — Blue Earth Post 4580 second baseman Matthew Meier (right) makes a quick flip to shortstop Cole Klinkner to force out Fairmont Post 1222 runner Mark Washa at second base during the 2nd District, Southwest Sub-District baseball championship game on Sunday at Herb Wolf Field in Fairmont. (Photo by Charlie Sorrells)
"We pounded on the door today, but it was made of oak," a smiling Post 4580 head coach Jeff Bell said in reference to his lineup's 14 runners left on base. "We had our chances, but just couldn't come up with the key hit."
Trailing 3-0, Adam Legred and Zac Schonrock collected back-to-back singles to lead off the top of the fifth before an errant pickoff throw to second base put Blue Earth runners at the corners.
Chris Jenkins punched an RBI single to left to plate Legred before Fairmont starting pitcher Nathan Gillis notched one of his six strikeouts on the game. Gillis then issued back-to-back walks to Trevor Oppedal and Cole Klinkner to load the bases and force home a run, respectively, to narrow Post 4580's deficit to 3-2.
The multi-tasking Tennyson, who had played first and third base earlier in the tourney, opened Sunday's championship behind the plate before trading places with Gillis in the fifth.
Tennyson recorded a strikeout and an infield popout to avert any more damage on the scoreboard.
"Tyler really did a nice job of coming in and throwing strikes for us today," said Post 1222 head coach Todd Sukalski. "After that, we finally got our bats going in the sixth to generate some insurance runs."
Carter Lloyd, who joined teammates Mark Washa, Evan Closs, Christian Engeman and Gillis by producing two hits apiece, legged out an infield hit to set the table for Fairmont in the sixth.
Lloyd stole second base and scored on Closs' single to right before Closs moved into scoring position via an errant pickoff attempt at first. Engeman singled home the fleet-footed Closs before Jack Waletich was intentionally walked.
Blue Earth starting pitcher Collin Bell coaxed a flyball to net the second out of the sixth before Gillis smacked a double to the right-center gap to plate Engeman and Waletich for a 7-2 lead.
Tennyson later struck out two during a four-batter top of the seventh to seal Fairmont's win.
Closs and Engeman led off with back-to-back infield hits during Post 1222's third at-bat, Waletich was plunked by an offering and Closs scored on a wild pitch.
Washa and Lloyd then delivered Fairmont's runs in the fourth. Washa hammered a leadoff double before Lloyd singled to put runners eventually at second and third. Engeman then topped a slow roller to third with two out, but Washa's slide at the plate knocked the baseball loose as a hustling Lloyd scored all the way from second on the play.
Adam Legred and Schonrock each collected two of Blue Earth's six hits.
Gillis allowed two runs on six hits, struck out six and walked eight in 4 1/3 innings to net the win. Bell gave up seven runs on 10 hits, fanned six, walked one and hit one batter in six innings to absorb the loss.
BE 000 020 0 - 2 6 1
FMT 001 204 x - 7 10 1
Collin Bell (LP) and Logan Jahnke. Nathan Gillis (WP), Tyler Tennyson (5, Sv) and Tennyson, Gillis (5).
LOB-Fairmont 6; Blue Earth 14. 2B-Gillis (F), Mark Washa (F).
Blue Earth 10, St. James 0 - Kaylan Legred produced three hits, walked twice and scored three runs to power Blue Earth to a 10-0, six-inning Game 2 playback victory over St. James on Saturday in Fairmont.
Logan Jahnke generated two hits and two runs, Adam Legred drilled two hits, while Michael Mack singled, walked and scored a pair of runs for Post 4580.
Jahnke struck out five and allowed no runs on two hits in four innings of work to earn the win. Collin Bell notched two strikeouts and pitched two scoreless innings of two-hit relief.
Blue Earth 2, Mapleton 1 - Kaylan Legred delivered three hits and scored the game-winning run on a passed ball during the seventh inning to steer Blue Earth to a 2-1 win over Mapleton during the initial playback sub-district clash on Saturday in Fairmont.
Logan Jahnke dropped down a perfect suicide-squeeze bunt to plate Jordan Huse with the tying run earlier in Blue Earth's seventh.
Jahnke earned his first of two pitching wins on the day, notching seven strikeouts in hurling seven innings of three-hit baseball.
Fairmont 11, St. James 1 - Right-hander Eli Green fired a three-hit complete-game gem to complement one hit and three RBIs from the batter's box to steer Fairmont to an 11-1, five-inning sub-district victory over St. James on Saturday.
Green displayed stellar control by issuing only one walk and recording three strikeouts in five frames. Green gave up one unearned run in earning the victory.
Ironically, Green also delivered the game's initial via an RBI fielder's choice to account for Post 1222's solo run in the bottom of the first. Jack Waletich, who had walked and reached third base on back-to-back wild pitches, scored on Green's groundout.
Waletich then hammered a towering RBI triple to right to plate Christian Engeman, who had drawn a two-out walk, during the second.
Fairmont then sent 11 hitters to the batter's box en route to six more runs during the third.
Mark Washa drew a two-out walk, took second on a wild pitch and scored on Carter Lloyd's RBI single. Matt Larson reached on an error before Engeman walked to load the bases.
Waletich received an RBI walk, Green drilled a two-run single and Tyler Tennyson unleashed a two-run double to extend Post 1222's margin to 8-0.
Washa doubled to lead off Fairmont's fourth, moved to third on Lloyd's single and scored on Larson's hard-hit grounder to second. Lloyd later crossed the plate on Engeman's RBI groundout.
Tennyson and Nathan Gillis each reached errors to open the fifth before Tennyson scored the game-ending run on a wild pitch.
Lloyd went 2-for-3 with two runs scored and one RBI, while Gillis also contributed a hit.