WINDOM — The Windom Area Eagles combined an offensive small-ball approach with excellent pitching to squeeze 2-1 against the No. 1 Class AA Fairmont Cardinals in Windom on Saturday for the Big South baseball championship to win the conference.
Starting pitcher Braydon Kreofsky scattered five hits and allowed an unearned run in six outstanding innings of work for Windom Area. The right-hander hit five and didn’t give out a walk to earn the win for the Eagles.
Windom Area second baseman Noah Armstrong conceded and hit one, ending a scoreless top of the seventh inning to make the save.
“Before the game we talked about the importance of putting pressure on a team early on 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 most recent loss — a 13-0 decision to Fairmont on May 7. “Believe Fairmont credit – that was a great pitcher duel today.”
Ace right-hander Jacob Crissinger fired a three-hit jewel as he went six-inning distance for the Cardinals and allowed two runs, but only one earned, to concede his first loss of the season. Crissinger recorded the best six strikeouts of the game, walking one and hitting a batter.
“In baseball, you don’t know what the pitching is going to be like, especially when you’re playing multiple games in a week.” said Fairmont head coach Don Waletich. “Jacob and Kreofsky matched pitch-for-pitch on the mound today, but Windom managed to get a run more than us. We had our chances but didn’t get the goal in time.”
After both Crissinger and Kreofsky back-to-back batting lineups in the first inning, Kreofsky received a defensive jewel from center fielder Tucker Renquist in the second inning. Fairmont’s Nate Soelter drilled a deep flyball into the left-center gap Renquist tracked to rob the No. 5 hitter of an extra base hit.
Windom Area then overran the first heat of the championship fight at the end of the second. Henry Erickson, who collected two of the Eagles’ three hits, hammered a leadoff single down center before stealing second base. Erickson moved to third base on Brady Espenson’s right groundout before Wyatt Haugen’s suicide squeeze bunt fell to the infield grass for Erickson to score for a 1-0 lead.
Eli Anderson later spoiled Kreofsky’s perfect play and no-hit bid by ordering a leadoff single in the Cardinals’ fourth half, but was stranded in second place 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 quarter, with only Erickson’s second single exiting the infield. Josh Garrison was hit by a pitch, stealing second base and holding on to third on Erickson’s sharp single to left field.
Espenson then tapped with a slow roller along the first baseline, which was mauled by the Cardinals, allowing Garrison to take a 2-0 lead.
Fairmont ended Kreofsky’s shutout in the top of the fifth when Cooper Steuber’s sacrificial fly overran Sölter to close the gap to 2-1. Soelter earned second through a defensive sequence with two errors from the Eagles, spinning to third on Gavin Rodning’s bloop right single and tagging and sprinting home left on Steuber’s RBI flyout.
Landen Meyerdirk later hit with two outs to put Cardinals in 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 an out for Fairmont in the sixth, but were stranded when Soelter folded and Rodning fouled.
Brendan Schmidtke delivered a pinch-hit single with a spot atop seventh for the Cardinals, but Armstrong worked his way out of the potential jam with a groundout and a fielder flyout.
Haugen was responsible for the Eagles’ other goal of the game.
Fairmont (18-2) travels to Faribault for his regular-season finale at 5 p.m. today, while Windom Area (15-3) hosts Marshall at Island Park at 4 p.m. today. Both the Cardinals and Eagles will play Saturday’s Open Section 3AA Tournament, 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-on-4 with a double and collected two RBIs to help the Mavericks to a six-time non-league triumph over the Flying Dutchmen in Edgerton on Saturday.
Kain Sanders doubled and singled in three at-bats, generating two RBIs and hitting two runs for MCW, while teammate Jesse Potts also went 2-on-3 with an RBI and crossed the plate twice.
Sanders allowed two runs with five hits, batting five and walking five in 5 1/3 innings to give the Mavericks the win.
Jesse Potts gave up a run on two hits and knocked out one of 1 2/3 innings of relief to end the win.
Martin County West (11-6) plays host to Jackson County Central today at 4:00 p.m. at the Fox Lake Sports Complex in Welcome.
EDG 010 001 1 — 3 7 4
MCW 032 022 X — 9 10 0