Martins trip up Hampton at state

JORDAN – Shaun McGuire delivered clutch performances from both the batter’s box and the mound during Saturday’s Minnesota Class ‘C’ state amateur baseball tournament in Jordan.

McGuire went 3-for-4 with two RBIs, including driving in the pivotal go-ahead run with an eighth-inning double, and fired two shutout innings of relief to save the Fairmont Martins’ 4-1 first-round state triumph over the Hampton Cardinals at the Mini Met.

Fairmont (25-10) advances to face the St. Martin Martins (16-8) at 1:30 p.m. Saturday during second-round action at Tiger Park in Belle Plaine. St. Martin, the Region 15 champion, earned a first-round bye in the 48-team, single-elimination state tournament.

Hampton ended its season with a 20-21 record.

Tied at 1-all on the strength of stellar seven-inning pitching performances by both Fairmont ace right-hander Taylor Nawrocki and Hampton starter Lincoln Hochmuth, McGuire staked the Martins to a lead that they would not relinquish.

Luke Becker reached on an error to lead off the top of the eighth for Fairmont before advancing 90 feet on Max Waletich’s sacrifice bunt. The fleet-footed Becker then circled the bases with the eventual game-winning run when McGuire drilled an RBI double.

McGuire later moved to third base when Adam Schmidt’s grounder to third was mishandled before tagging and crossing the plate on Taylor Morris’ sacrifice fly to right field for a 3-1 edge.

McGuire then proved his diamond mettle on the mound, inheriting Hampton leadoff batter David Barry at second base via a leadoff double off of Martins reliever Sawyer Doocy during the home half of the eighth.

Despite giving up a one-out single to Josh Chatfield during the eighth, McGuire notched one of his three strikeouts and got an infield popout to thwart the Cardinals’ late threat.

Fairmont added an insurance run during the top of the ninth for a 4-1 lead. Ian Bents, who went 2-for-3 on the opener, reached on a catcher’s interference call before Jay Ruen replaced Bents on the base paths.

Ruen advanced 90 feet when Jon Ellis was hit by Hampton reliever Evan DeCovich before a Cardinal error allowed Ruen to reach third. Ruen later scored on Luke Becker’s RBI fielder’s choice.

McGuire opened the bottom of the ninth inning by notching back-to-back strikeouts before Taylor Beattie delivered a pinch-hit double for Hampton. The Fairmont right-hander, however, preserved the victory by getting a flyout to left.

McGuire accounted for the state opener’s initial run during the top of the fourth. Scott Chirpich drew a leadoff walk from Hochmuth, moved to second on Waletich’s one-out single and scored on McGuire’s RBI single to left for a 1-0 lead.

Right fielder Max Waletich, who’s an all-Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference and all-region standout at Minnesota State University in Mankato, utilized his strong throwing arm to keep the Martins ahead on the scoreboard during the bottom of the sixth.

Brandon Morgan singled and stole second base for the Cardinals before trying to score on Rhett Hebig’s one-out single to right. Waletich fielded the hit and pegged a strike to catcher Dustin Sobolik for the pivotal putout.

Nawrocki allowed one earned run on six hits, struck out three, hit two batters and issued one walk in seven innings of work to earn the victory for the Martins.

McGuire gave up two hits, struck out three and did not issue a walk in two scoreless innings of relief to earn the save.

Brett Gwaltney, a draftee from Lake City, allowed one unearned run on no hits in 1/3 of an inning of relief to take the loss for Hampton.

Hochmuth gave up one earned run on six hits, fanned five and walked two in seven frames to receive no-decision for the Cardinals.

Fairmont 000 100 021 – 4 7 0

Hampton 000 000 100 – 1 9 6

Taylor Nawrocki (WP), Sawyer Doocy (8), Shaun McGuire (8, Sv) and Dustin Sobolik. Lincoln Hochmuth, Brett Gwaltney (8, LP), Evan DeCovich (8) and Rhett Hebig.

LOB-Fairmont 10; Hampton 8. 2B-McGuire (F), David Barry (H), Taylor Beattie (H). SF-Taylor Morris (F). SAC-Max Waletich (F).