WINDOM – The Windom Area Eagles combined a small-ball offensive approach with stellar pitching to squeeze by the Class AA No. 1-ranked Fairmont Cardinals, 2-1, for the outright Big South Conference baseball championship on Saturday in Windom.
Starting hurler Braydon Kreofsky scattered five hits and allowed an unearned run in six stellar innings of work for Windom Area. The right-hander struck out five and did not issue a walk to earn the victory for the Eagles.
Noah Armstrong, Windom Area’s starting second baseman, allowed one hit and struck out one in closing out a scoreless top of the seventh inning to garner the save.
“Before the game, we talked about the importance of putting pressure on a team early and we were able to do that by scoring in the second (inning),” said first-year Eagles head coach Alex Fink, whose team extended its winning streak to eight straight and avenged its last loss – a 13-0 decision to Fairmont on May 7. “Give Fairmont credit – that was a great pitchers’ duel today.”
Ace right-hander Jacob Crissinger fired a three-hit gem in going the six-inning distance for the Cardinals, allowing two runs, but only one earned, to receive his first loss of the season. Crissinger recorded a game-best six strikeouts, walked one and hit one batter.
“In baseball, you do not know how the pitching is going to match up, especially when you’re playing several games in a week,” said Fairmont head coach Don Waletich. “Jacob and Kreofsky matched each other pitch-for-pitch on the mound today, but Windom managed to score one more run than we did. We had our chances, but could not come up with the timely hit. ”
After both Crissinger and Kreofsky retired the opposing batting lineups in order during the first inning, Kreofsky received a defensive gem from center fielder Tucker Renquist in the top of the second. Fairmont’s Nate Soelter drilled a deep fly ball to the left-center gap that Renquist tracked down to rob the No. 5 batter of an extra-base hit.
Windom Area then plated the championship clash’s initial run during the bottom of the second. Henry Erickson, who collected two of the Eagles’ three hits, hammered a leadoff single up the middle before stealing second base. Erickson moved to third base on Brady Espenson’s right-side groundout before Wyatt Haugen’s suicide-squeeze bunt dropped on the infield grass to allow Erickson to score for a 1-0 lead.
Eli Anderson later spoiled Kreofsky’s perfect game and no-hit bid by lining a leadoff single in the Cardinals ‘half of the fourth, but was stranded at second when the Eagles’ right-hander got an infield popout, a foul-out to Espenson behind the plate and a groundout.
The Eagles then doubled their lead with another solo run in the bottom of the fourth with only Erickson’s second single leaving the infield. Josh Garrison was hit by a pitch, stole second base and held at third on Erickson’s sharp single to left field.
Espenson then tapped a slow roller along the first base line that was mishandled by the Cardinals, allowing Garrison to score for a 2-0 lead.
Fairmont ended Kreofsky’s shutout in the top of the fifth when Cooper Steuber’s sacrifice fly plated Soelter to narrow the gap to 2-1. Soelter reached second via a two-error defensive sequence by the Eagles, wheeled to third on Gavin Rodning’s bloop single to right and tagged and sprinted home on Steuber’s RBI flyout to left.
Landen Meyerdirk later singled with two outs to put Cardinals at the corners, but Kreofsky got a flyout to thwart the threat in the fifth.
Zach Jorgensen and Jack Kosbab produced back-to-back singles with one out for Fairmont in the sixth, but were stranded when Soelter lined out and Rodning fouled out.
Brendan Schmidtke delivered a pinch-hit single with one out in the top of the seventh for the Cardinals, but Armstrong worked out of potential jam with a fielder’s choice groundout and a flyout.
Haugen accounted for the Eagles’ other hit on the game.
Fairmont (18-2) travels to Faribault today for its regular-season finale at 5 pm, while Windom Area (15-3) plays host to Marshall at 4 pm today at Island Park. Both the Cardinals and Eagles open Section 3AA Tournament play on Saturday, at times and against opponents to be determined.
FMT 000 010 0 – 1 6 2
WDM 010 100 X – 2 3 2
Jacob Crissinger (LP) and Zach Jorgensen. Braydon Kreofsky (WP), Noah Armstrong (7, Sv) and Brady Espenson.
LOB – Fairmont 6, Windom Area 4. SF – Cooper Steuber (FMT). SAC – Wyatt Haugen (WDM).
Martin County West 9, Edgerton 3 – Brice Enter went 3-for-4 with a double and collected two RBIs to help stampede the Mavericks to a six-run non-league triumph over the Flying Dutchmen on Saturday in Edgerton.
Kain Sanders doubled and singled in three at-bats, generated two RBIs and scored two runs for MCW, while teammate Jesse Potts also went 2-for-3 with one RBI and crossed the plate twice.
Sanders allowed two runs on five hits, struck out five and walked five in 5 1/3 innings pitched to net the win for the Mavericks.
Jesse Potts gave up one run on two hits and struck out one in 1 2/3 innings of relief to close out the win.
Martin County West (11-6) plays host to Jackson County Central in a 4 pm regular-season nonconference game today at Fox Lake Sports Complex in Welcome.
EDG 010 001 1 – 3 7 4
MCW 032 022 X – 9 10 0