FAIRMONT - Andy Wolf's baserunning prowess in extra innings Friday night created a need for Game 3 in the best-of-3 amateur baseball playoff series between Jackson and Fairmont.
Wolf alertly broke from third base on Blaise Jacobsen's slow roller to first with the bases loaded and beat the throw to the plate to snap an 8-all deadlock during the top of the 10th inning of Game 2 at Herb Wolf Field in Fairmont.
The Bulls manufactured another run without a hit in the extra frame before closer Ray Zalabowski worked a scoreless home half of the 10th to propel the Bulls to a 10-8 third-round Region 13C triumph over the Fairmont Martins.
GIVING CHASE — Fairmont Martins first baseman Adam Schmidt chases down a popup in foul territory to record an out against the Jackson Bulls during Game 2 of the two teams’ Region 13C amateur baseball series on Friday night at Herb Wolf Field in Fairmont. (Photo by Leanna Becker)
No. 4-seeded Fairmont (22-9) squares off against No. 1-seeded Jackson (26-2) in a decisive Game 3 at 2 p.m. Sunday at Wacker Field in Jackson.
"Our first game was a pitchers' duel, and this one turned out to be a hitters' game," said Martins player-coach Adam Schmidt, whose team claimed a 3-2 Game 1 decision over the Bulls on Wednesday night.
Schmidt, who went 2-for-3 with four RBIs on the night, connected for the first of his two extra-base hits during the bottom of the first to help stake Fairmont to a 3-1 lead.
Jackson grabbed the early edge when Pat Rients and Jacobsen drilled back-to-back doubles with two out during the top of the first frame before the Becker brothers countered for Fairmont.
Luke Becker drew a one-out walk, stole second base and scored the tying run on Levi Becker's first of three hits on the game. Levi Becker then trotted home when Schmidt unleashed a towering two-run home run over the left-field fence.
Tanner Nawrocki singled with two out and circled the bases on Scott Chirpich's RBI triple into the right-field corner during the second to extend the Martins' margin to 4-1, but Wolf and the Bulls countered with a solo run in the third.
Wolf, who went 2-for-4 with four runs scored, hammered the first of his pair of doubles before eventually scoring when Ethan Welter's smash to third was mishandled for one of Fairmont's six errors on the night.
Schmidt then supplied more extra-base power during the home half of the third to extend Fairmont's upperhand on the scoreboard to 6-2. Levi Becker, who went 3-for-6, singled before Shaun McGuire hammered a double to deep straightaway center to bring Schmidt to the batter's box. Schmidt then drilled a two-run double to the left-center gap.
With Bulls' right-handed reliever Zach Copley holding the Martins' bats in check after replacing starter Tom Hady to thwart the third-inning threat, Wolf and the Jackson offense erupted for three runs in both the fifth and sixth innings to grab an 8-6 lead.
Wolf doubled off the left-field fence to lead off the fifth before wheeling home on Ryan Rasche's RBI single to center. Rasche later moved to third on Rients' double off the fence in left before crossing the plate on Jacobsen's RBI fielder's choice. Rients then scored on Welter's RBI single just inside the third base line to whittle the gap to 6-5.
Jacobsen's RBI double, combined with two Fairmont errors, a walk and a hit batter morphed into three Jackson runs during the sixth.
The Martins chipped away at their two-run deficit with a solo run in the bottom of the sixth. Dustin Sobolik singled, took second on a walk to Ian Bents, advanced 90 feet on Tanner Nawrocki's sacrifice bunt and scored on Chirpich's sacrifice fly to center.
Fairmont eventually forced extra innings by knotting the game at 8-all via a solo run in the last of the eighth. Jay Ruen walked, reached second on a walk to Chirpich and scored on Luke Becker's RBI fielder's choice.
The Bulls, however, struck first in the 10th when Wolf was hit by a Sawyer Doocy pitch before both he and Rasche moved into scoring position via a throwing error on Rasche's bunt.
The Martins intentionally walked Rients to create a force situation with no outs, but Wolf's quick jump on Jacobsen's slow roller produced the go-ahead and eventual winning run. Rasche later scored on Welter's RBI fielder's choice.
Right-hander Collin Lovell, a draftee from Windom, worked three innings of relief to notch the victory for Jackson. Lovell gave up one run on two hits, walked three, struck out two and hit one batter.
Zalabowski fanned one and walked one in pitching a hitless and scoreless bottom of the 10th for the Bulls.
Doocy allowed one run on one hit, struck out five, walked two and hit one in two innings of relief to absorb the loss for the Martins.
Sobolik added a two-hit performance for the Martins.
JAX 101 033 000 2 - 10 10 1
FMT 312 001 010 0 - 8 11 6
Tom Hady, Zach Copley (3), Collin Lovell (7, WP), Ray Zalabowski (10, Sv) and Caleb Rossow. Shaun McGuire, Adam Schmidt (7), Sawyer Doocy (9, LP) and Dustin Sobolik.
LOB-Fairmont 12; Jackson 12. 2B-McGuire (F), Schmidt (F), Sobolik (F), Andy Wolf (J) 2, Pat Rients (J) 2, Blaise Jacobsen (J) 2. 3B-Scott Chirpich (F). HR-Schmidt (F). SF-Chirpich (F).