Fairmont homers to round of 16

BELLE PLAINE – The Fairmont Martins combined long-ball hitting with shutdown pitching to reach the round of 16 at the Minnesota Class ‘C’ state amateur baseball tournament.

Luke Becker drilled a three-run home run, Max Waletich hammered a solo shot and ace right-hander Taylor Nawrocki fired a three-hit gem to power Fairmont to a 6-1 second-round victory over the St. Martin Martins on Saturday in Belle Plaine.

Fairmont (26-10) advances to play Fergus Falls – a 5-3 second-round winner over Kimball on Sunday – at 1:30 p.m. Saturday at the Mini Met in Jordan.

St. Martin ended its season with a 16-9 record.

Nawrocki extended his perfect 2014 postseason pitching record to 6-0 by limiting St. Martin to one earned run on three hits, struck out seven, walked three and hit two batters in nine yeoman innings of work to earn the complete-game victory.

Nawrocki, who hurled seven innings of six-hit ball during Fairmont’s state tournament opener on Aug. 16, gave up a solo run to St. Martin during the bottom of the first frame.

Leadoff batter Kyle Lieser walked, stole second base, moved to third on former University of Minnesota Gopher catcher Kurt Schlangen’s fielder’s choice and scored on Nathan Schlangen’s RBI groundout.

Luke Becker, however, changed the second-round state clash’s outlook with one powerful swing of the bat during the top of the third.

Dustin Sobolik drew a one-out walk from St. Martin starting pitcher Scott Schlangen, wheeled to second when Scott Chirpich legged out a bunt hit and scored when Luke Becker launched a three-run round-tripper over the wall at Tiger Park.

With the hard-throwing Nawrocki hanging zeroes on St. Martin’s side of the scoreboard over the final eight frames, Fairmont’s batting order doubled its run production during the final four innings.

Max Waletich hammered a solo home run with one out during the top of the sixth before Fairmont teammate Shaun McGuire singled home two more insurance runs during the top of the eighth.

Chirpich walked, Luke Becker singled and Waletich was plunked by a Scott Schlangen offering to bring McGuire to the plate with no outs and the bases loaded.

McGuire, who co-led Fairmont with Luke Becker with three hits apiece, drilled a single to plate Chirpich and Luke Becker for a 6-1 lead.

Fairmont’s defense turned a double play in both the fifth and sixth to help Nawrocki work around singles by Michael Schlangen and Kurt Schlangen in each of the innings, respectively.

Chirpich and Ian Bents each contributed a single to Fairmont’s nine-hit performance.

Scott Schlangen, one of six family members on the St. Martin team, allowed four runs – all earned – on seven hits, struck out five and issued one walk in 5 1/3 innings to take the loss.

FMT 003 001 020 – 6 9 1

STM 100 000 000 – 1 3 1

Taylor Nawrocki (WP) and Dustin Sobolik. Scott Schlangen (LP), Bryan Schlangen (6), Brent Heinen (8) and Kurt Schlangen.

HR-Luke Becker (F), Max Waletich (F).

Fort Ripley 9, Blue Earth 6 – The Rebels erupted for seven ninth-inning runs – five unearned – to rally for a 9-6 second-round state tourney victory over the Pirates on Friday night in Belle Plaine.

Trailing 6-2, Fort Ripley plated two runs off of Blue Earth starting pitcher Aaron Wendt during the top of the ninth before manufacturing five unearned runs off of Pirates reliever Lee Hodges.

Ethan Branum then held Blue Earth scoreless during the bottom of the ninth to preserve his pitching victory in relief. Branum gave up four runs – four earned – on five hits in working the game’s final 2 2/3 innings. He struck out five, walked one and hit one batter.

Brian Skluzacek went 3-for-5 with one RBI and two runs scored to top Fort Ripley’s seven-hit attack, while Brett Kramer homered in four at-bats en route to three RBIs and two runs scored. Ray Austin added a 2-for-4 effort, including a double, two RBIs and a run scored.

John Franta went 1-for-4 with a double, three RBIs and a run scored to help pace Blue Earth, while T.J. Stallman went 3-for-5 with a pair of doubles, one RBI and a run scored.

T.J. Schmidtke doubled in a run for the Pirates, while Bobby Olson singled in a run and crossed the plate once.

Wendt, Hodges, Kane Malo and Brandyn Olsen each supplied hits for Blue Earth.

Wendt gave up four runs – three earned – on four hits, struck out 12, walked three and hit one batter in 8 1/3 innings of work to receive a no-decision.

Hodges gave up the five unearned runs on two hits and walked two in 1/3 of an inning of relief to take the loss.

Blue Earth ended its season with a 19-3 record.

Fort Ripley (17-9) advances to play Winsted at 1:30 p.m. Saturday in third-round state action in Belle Plaine. Winsted eliminated St. Augusta, 1-0.