FAIRMONT - Taylor Nawrocki proved almost unhittable during second-round Region 13C amateur baseball playoff action on Wednesday night at Herb Wolf Field.
The 6-foot-4 ace right-hander recorded an incredible 18 strikeouts to pace a three-hit complete-game gem in hurling the Fairmont Martins to a 6-0 Game 1 victory over the Hadley Buttermakers in Fairmont.
No. 4-seeded Fairmont (20-7) travels to No. 5-seeded Hadley (19-11) for Game 2 of their best-of-3 regional series at 2 p.m. Saturday.
STIRRING UP DUST — Fairmont Martins runner Tanner Nawrocki (4) stirs up the dust as he steals second between Hadley Buttermakers second baseman Taylor Rignell (left) and shortstop Nate Wieneke during Game 1 of the two teams’ Region 13C best-of-3 amateur baseball action Wednesday night at Herb Wolf Field. (Photo by Leanna Becker)
"I really didn't throw anything off-speed until after the first time through the (batting) order," said the hard-throwing Nawrocki, who pitched for the Minnesota State University, Mankato Mavericks in the spring. "I showed them my curveball after that, and it proved very effective during the middle innings while my fastball actually seemed to get stronger in the later innings."
Nawrocki, who hit 91 mph on the radar gun on Wednesday night, demonstrated flawless pitching mechanics and untouchable velocity by closing the top of the sixth inning with a strikeout. The Martins' right-hander then struck out the side in both the seventh and eighth for seven in a row before ending the game in the ninth with, what else, a strikeout.
Nawrocki also proved a costly foe for the Buttermakers as he caused at least three, if not more, Hadley bats to break on the night.
In fact, Colby Pack's infield hit during the first frame resulted in the barrel of the bat traveling further than the baseball itself.
Joe Larson singled during the third, and Trent Larson smacked a two-out triple to left-center during the fourth to account for Hadley's limited offense.
No. 2 batter Luke Becker proved to be the Martins' instant offense by collecting four of the team's 12 hits and scoring half of its six runs.
Luke Becker singled with one out in the first, swiped both second and third, and scored the game's initial run on Shaun McGuire's RBI single to left.
Luke Becker set the table again in the bottom of the third. The left-handed batter singled to lead off the at-bat, stole second, took third on Levi Becker's groundout and trotted home on McGuire's towering RBI triple to deep center.
Levi Becker then set the tone during Fairmont's fifth, singling to right, swiping second, advancing 90 feet on Adam Schmidt's single and alertly scoring on a wild pitch.
Andy Reiter accounted for the Martins' solo run in the sixth. Reiter reached on an error, took second on a wild pitch and alertly wheeled all the way home when Luke Becker's infield hit was thrown away at first.
Scott Chirpich and Luke Becker later produced back-to-back singles with one out in the eighth before Levi Becker hammered a two-run double down the right-field line to extend Fairmont's lead to 6-0.
Justin Reinsma started on the mound for Hadley, allowing two earned runs on five hits, struck out one, walked one and hit one batter in 3 2/3 innings to take the loss.
HDY 000 000 000 - 0 3 3
FMT 101 011 02x - 6 12 1
Justin Reinsma (LP), Bryce Christopher (4), Eric Wieneke (8) and Trent Carlson. Taylor Nawrocki (WP) and Andy Reiter.
LOB-Fairmont 12; Hadley 5. 2B-Levi Becker (F). 3B-Shaun McGuire (F), Trent Carlson (H). SAC-Ian Bents (F).