NEW ULM - Thanks to a diving catch by Cardinals' centerfielder Alek Borchardt in the bottom of the seventh inning of Thursday's game against New Ulm, the road to the South Central Conference baseball title now goes through Fairmont.
Borchardt latched onto a sinking line drive off of the bat of Chase Meyer with one out and two New Ulm runners on base and then doubled off Tanner Kluis at first to preserve a 3-2 Fairmont win over New Ulm at Mueller Park.
Luke Becker got the win for Fairmont (5-0, 8-1). He went 6 1/3 innings and allowed two runs while striking out two.
Staff photo by Steve Muscatello
New Ulm High School second baseman Troy Altmann tags out Fairmont’s Bryce Holm Thursday at Mueller Park in New Ulm.
For more photos of this event go to cu.nujournal.com
Tanner Kluis took the loss for the Eagles (4-1, 7-4). Kluis fanned three and allowed nine hits. One of the runs allowed by Kluis was unearned.
Levi Becker, Mitch Pfingston and Ross Wilken each had two hits for Fairmont.
Judd Davis had two of New Ulm's five hits in the game.
"I thought that we had it," New Ulm coach Jay Backer said. "I thought that it was in the gap."
What Backer was referring to was a bottom of the seventh inning rally by the Eagles, who trailed Fairmont 3-1.
After Matt Bergmann lined out for the first out, Connor Stark reached on an infield single. Jim Holstein coaxed a walk off of Luke Becker before Kluis delivered an RBI single to cut the lead to 3-2 and place Eagles on first and second.
Spencer Chirpich relieved Becker. Chase Meyer then belted a pitch that appeared headed for the gap in right-center field. Thinking that the ball was going to fall in, both runners took off. But Borchardt raced in to make the catch and then easily doubled Kluis off of first to end the game.
"He (Borchardt) made a great play," Backer said. "This was a well-played baseball game between two good teams."
Both teams scored runs in the first inning.
Fairmont scored its run when Chirpich beat out an infield single. Levi Becker's fly ball to left field was dropped by Meyer to put runners on second and third with one out.
Michael Foster's sacrifice fly scored Chirpich.
The Eagles matched that in the bottom of the inning when Davis led off with a single. He took second on a Dylan Schreckenberg sacrifice bunt. Bergmann's two-out single knotted the game.
But after those two hits in the first inning, the Eagles were only able to manage one hit - a third-inning single from Davis - until the seventh inning.
At one time, Becker set down nine straight New Ulm batters.
"We are not getting timely hitting," said Backer, who saw his team score five runs on no hits in a win over St. Peter on Tuesday.
"This is the fourth game in a row where we have not hit the ball. Right now we are guessing at the plate and we are not comfortable. We are in a slump."
Fairmont broke the tie with single runs in the fourth and fifth innings on a Becker bloop single and a Wilken base hit.
Backer said that the loss hurts New Ulm in the conference and the section.
"But there are a lot of baseball games left," he said. "I told the kids to keep their heads up."