Becker tabbed All-Area captain
FAIRMONT – Wilson, Katzenmeyer, Nelson, Peymann, Waletich.
Fairmont sports fans fondly recall the above names when reminiscing about the rich history of the Cardinals’ high school baseball program.
Numerous debates have taken place throughout the years trying to determine which of those former Fairmont diamond greats possessed the best overall skills in their heydays.
Wilson’s love of the game? Katzenmeyer’s blazing speed? Nelson’s power pitching? Peymann’s contact with impact? Waletich’s run-producing prowess?
Now, Cardinal baseball followers can officially add Luke Becker’s name to the discussion due to his graduation from FHS just two months ago.
“Luke might be the most complete player I’ve ever coached during my time here. He’s a switch hitter with power, has speed, can play a number of positions defensively, and can pitch successfully against quality hitters,” said eight-year Fairmont mentor Todd Sukalski, who’s guided the red-and-white to four state appearances over the last five seasons. “He and Levi (Becker) are definitely the hardest workers that I’ve coached. The extra time he (Luke) spent in the batting cage over the years has paid big dividends for our program.”
Sukalski’s analysis proves as true as Becker’s smooth swing, especially when taking a glance at the Fairmont program’s win-loss column during his prolific three-year varsity career.
The Cardinals compiled an impressive 72-10 record during Becker’s three-year reign for an .878 winning percentage, including three South Central Conference championships and an incredible 27-3 mark against league rivals.
Becker played a key role behind Fairmont’s single-season school-record victory totals (25) in both 2012 and 2014, including a Class AA state runner-up showing this spring and a fourth-place state finish two seasons ago.
Individually, the 2014 all-Class AA state tournament selection eclipsed nearly every unofficial single-season offensive mark ever established by past Cardinal baseball standouts.
The Minnesota Class AA all-state choice hammered opposing pitchers’ deliveries at a .547 clip – an amazing 30 points higher than Logan Peymann’s average in 2011 – behind 52 hits. Peymann generated 45 hits during his record-setting season.
While the Minnesota High School Baseball Coaches Association All-Star Series selection’s nine doubles tied current teammates Jay Ruen and Jack Waletich for this spring’s team lead, Becker’s 10 home runs and 10 triples set the new standard in those extra-base hit categories. Becker’s round-trip blasts doubled Andy Nelson’s homer mark of five set in 1993, while the 10 triples tie Jay Katzenmeyer’s total also set in 1993.
The perennial all-Section 3AA choice produced 42 RBIs to erase the previous mark of 36 set by Max Waletich in 2011, while Becker’s 40 runs scored matches Peymann’s single-season total from 2011.
The three-time Sentinel All-Area selection also topped the Cardinals with 17 stolen bases, 16 drawn walks, a .613 on-base percentage and a staggering 1.168 slugging clip to round out his final prep diamond campaign.
But the three-time all-SCC choice was not limited to posting incredible statistics from the batter’s box as Becker compiled an 8-0 pitching record and his team’s second-best ERA of 2.17 this spring. The right-hander hurled four complete games, struck out 33 and issued only 10 walks in 42 innings on the mound.
Becker will continue his baseball career at North Iowa Area Community College in Mason City, Iowa.
For all of his contributions to the Fairmont baseball program, Becker has been selected as the 2014 Sentinel All-Area baseball player of the year.
Here’s an inside look at the rest of this year’s Sentinel All-Area baseball selections.
Alex Biehn (Martin County West) – The all-Valley Conference choice belted the baseball at a .444 clip during eight league contests this spring.
The hard-working Maverick senior cranked one home run and three doubles en route to crossing the plate six times against conference foes.
Biehn also generated a .535 on-base percentage and a .667 slugging clip to round out stellar offensive numbers at the plate.
The right-hander also compiled a 2-1 record and 2.00 ERA by striking out 16 hitters in 18 innings of work.
Spencer Chirpich (Fairmont) – The two-time all-Class AA state tournament selection topped the Cardinals’ pitching staff in five categories to cap his third varsity campaign.
The all-Section 3AA choice posted a second-best team mark of 6-1 on the mound, while generating a miniscule 0.98 ERA in a team-leading 50 innings.
The hard-throwing junior right-hander notched the Cardinals’ No. 1 total of 44 strikeouts, issued only a dozen walks and fired five complete games, including three shutouts.
The three-time All-Area pitcher/shortstop, who tossed a one-hit gem in the 2014 sectional championship game, generated a .389 batting average on the strength of 37 hits this spring.
The three-time all-league pick doubled six times to help collect 20 RBIs and score 25 runs for the last South Central Conference baseball champion ever.
Chirpich also reached base at a .458 clip, while slugging deliveries at a .453 pace to round out a stellar campaign that culminated with the Cardinals’ 25-2 overall record and Class AA state runner-up showing at Target Field.
David Franta (Blue Earth Area) – The Bucs’ captain produced a team-leading .391 batting average on the strength of 27 hits to close out his brilliant prep baseball career.
The repeat All-Area selection connected on five doubles, one triple and one home run en route to nine RBIs in 2014.
The three-time all-South Central Conference shortstop, who hit .400 against league rivals, also topped Blue Earth Area with 17 runs scored while striking out only five times in 69 at-bats this spring.
Toby Haugen (Martin County West) – The senior signal-caller pounded the baseball at a .454 pace during games against Valley Conference rivals this spring.
The all-conference choice collected 15 hits, including four doubles, and crossed the plate 10 times during eight league games.
Haugen produced a .580 on-base percentage and a .575 slugging clip to cap a solid prep diamond career.
Ethan Hurn (Martin Luther/Granada-Huntley East Chain/Truman) – The slick-fielding freshman topped the Knights’ offensive attack with a .391 batting average in 2014.
The all-Valley Conference selection produced three doubles, scored eight runs and collected eight RBIs during his varsity debut season.
Tony Payne (Martin County West) – The three-time All-Area infielder topped the Mavericks’ charts with a .500 batting average against Valley Conference pitchers this spring.
The three-time all-league choice, who registered five doubles and scored seven runs, produced the team’s No. 1 marks in both on-base percentage (.678) and slugging (.656).
The sophomore right-hander also compiled a 3-0 record and 2.10 ERA in 24 innings of work on the hill. Payne notched 20 strikeouts and issued only six walks.
Jay Ruen (Fairmont) – The Cardinals’ cleanup batter hit at a .348 clip and produced a second-best team total of 33 RBIs behind All-Area player of the year Luke Becker in 2014.
The all-South Central Conference choice generated 32 hits, including nine doubles and one home run, to complement 29 runs scored.
The smooth-fielding senior third baseman also drew 11 walks to help fuel a .439 on-base percentage to go with a .478 slugging clip this spring.
The two-year starter played a pivotal role behind the Cardinals capturing the last-ever SCC championship, a single-season record of 25-2 and a runner-up finish at the Class AA state tournament.
Cody Runksmeier (North Union) – The all-Corn Belt Conference choice chalked up the Warriors’ No. 1 on-base percentage, while generating the No. 2 marks in nearly every other offensive category.
The senior standout reached base at a .481 pace, while slugging opposing pitchers’ deliveries at a .522 clip this summer.
North Union’s leadoff batter posted a .391 average on the strength of 36 hits, including 10 doubles and one triple in 2014.
The perennial varsity starter also scored 25 runs to complement 21 RBIs in rounding out his solid prep baseball career.
Colin Runksmeier (North Union) – The sophomore sensation topped the Warriors’ charts in nearly every category except on-base percentage behind older brother Cody Runksmeier this campaign.
The all-Corn Belt Conference choice generated a .408 batting average behind 40 hits, including 13 doubles, one triple and one home run during the summer.
The hard-hitting Runksmeier delivered a team-best 23 RBIs and a .592 slugging clip to go with a .473 on-base rate.
The North Union right-hander netted a 5-5 record, 2.18 ERA and 48 strikeouts in 57 2/3 innings on the mound to close out a stellar season.
Alex Stewart (Blue Earth Area) – The all-South Central Conference honorable mention pick utilized his speed and quickness to generate a .345 batting average during the spring.
The Buc senior outfielder collected 19 hits, including a pair of doubles, scored seven runs, stole six bases and collected 11 RBIs in 2014.
Jack Waletich (Fairmont) – The all-Class AA state tournament team choice co-led the runner-up Cardinals with Becker and Ruen with nine doubles apiece this spring.
The all-Section 3AA selection smacked the baseball at a second-best team rate of .440 during his varsity debut campaign.
The all-South Central Conference outfielder produced one triple, one home run, 29 RBIs and 32 runs to highlight a brilliant year.
The hard-hitting sophomore reached base at a .557 pace and slugged opposing hurlers’ pitches at a .607 clip to help the Cardinals claimed the final SCC baseball championship ever.
Josh Wolter (Martin Luther/GHEC/Truman) – The two-time all-Valley Conference slugger produced a team-best 14 RBIs on the strength of six doubles during the spring season.
The Knight sophomore infielder/pitcher connected for a .344 batting average, and scored 10 runs.
The hard-throwing right-hander posted a 1-0 record, 1.31 ERA and 18 strikeouts in 16 innings of work on the mound to close out his second varsity campaign.