Owatonna ends Fairmont’s year

SLEEPY EYE – Owatonna’s Luke Wanous combined forces with Fairmont’s Jay Ruen and Luke Becker in helping guide the South to a 37-22 victory over the North during the annual all-star football game on June 28 at St. John’s University.

Wanous, however, proved a more than worthy adversary for Ruen and Becker during the Division I, Sub-state 2 American Legion baseball playoffs on Saturday in Sleepy Eye.

Wanous put the clamps on Fairmont Post 36’s potent offense by firing a six-hit complete-game gem to guide Owatonna Post 77 to an 8-2 elimination-game victory.

“It was good to see Jay and Luke again after playing in the all-star game together a month ago,” said Wanous, who will play linebacker for Augustana College in Sioux Falls, S.D., this fall. “Both of those guys are great athletes and hit the ball really well.”

After Owatonna grabbed a 2-0 lead by combining a pair of Fairmont errors with singles by Brady Steinhorst and Zach Karsten during the bottom of the fourth, Becker unleashed the second of his two extra-base hits to plate Post 36’s initial run in the top of the fifth.

Becker, who had doubled earlier in the third, hammered a triple off the left-field fence to plate Parker Monsen, who had replaced Ruen on base via a fielder’s choice. Ruen had walked.

Fairmont then knotted the game at 2-all during the sixth. Ryan Noll drilled a leadoff double down the third base line, wheeled to third on Nathan Gillis’ single and later crossed the plate on Nate Johnson’s RBI single to left.

Wanous, however, got a comebacker and a flyout to thwart the threat en route to triggering his incredible game-ending string of 11 consecutive outs.

“He (Wanous) just pounded the (strike) zone down the stretch and our guys hit the ball, but right at them,” said Fairmont coach Scott Chirpich, whose lineup ended the season with a 9-7 record and a fourth-place showing at the district tournament.

With Wanous holding the Post 36 batters at bay during the latter innings, Post 77 – which stranded a staggering 13 runners on the game – finally broke the deadlock with three runs during the home half of the sixth.

Riley Thompson, who went 3-for-4, lined a tiebreaking RBI single to left with two out before Wanous assisted his own cause by delivering a two-run single into right field.

Owatonna added three more runs on four hits during the eighth to stretch its edge to 8-2.

Nick Medo was hit by a Nate Johnson delivery before Thompson and Wanous followed with back-to-back singles to load the bases. Trey Fails produced the pivotal hit – a two-run single back through the box.

Wanous allowed two earned runs on six hits, struck out two, walked one and hit one batter in nine innings of work to net the complete-game victory.

Johnson allowed six earned runs on eight hits, walked one, fanned one and hit one batter in 3 1/3 relief innings to take the loss.

Becker went 2-for-4 with a double, triple and one RBI to top Fairmont.

Thompson’s three-hit effort topped Owatonna, while Dexter Leer, Medo, Wanous and Karsten each supplied two-hit games.

FMT 000 011 000 – 2 6 6

OW 000 203 03x – 8 14 2

Luke Becker, Matt Lytle (3), Nate Johnson (5, LP), Ben Abel (8) and Abel, Becker (8). Luke Wanous (WP) and Zach Karsten.

LOB-Fairmont 8; Owatonna 13. 2B-Becker (F), Ryan Noll (F). 3B-Becker (F). SAC-Brady Steinhorst (O).