MANKATO — The Mankato Nationals saw their 4-0 lead evaporate quickly in the late innings Monday night as Fairmont drove 10 runs across the plate in the final two frames. The rally gave the Nationals their first Legion baseball loss of the season.
The game was originally scheduled against St. Peter but a midday change brought Fairmont in to Franklin Rogers Park in their first legion matchup since falling to Luverne last Thursday in the section championship.
Nationals head coach Jamie Mulvihill knows his team came out ready, but credits falling behind in counts as one of the main reasons for Fairmont’s run parade in the later stages of the game, as his squad took the loss with Fairmont recording only six hits in the win.
“We ended up having to throw a lot of strikes to those guys behind the counts,” Mulvihill explained. “We got behind 2-0 and 3-0 a lot and that forced us to throw a lot of strikes right down the middle.”
Nationals starter Ian Schwickert was impressive in his four innings pitched. The recent-graduate of Mankato West registered four strikeouts, walking three and surrendering two hits in his first outing of the summer.
“He mixed his pitches up very well,” Mulvihill said. “He will probably be picking up a lot of the workload this year so it’s good to see he is ready to go.”
The contest was scoreless through three until the Nationals opened things up in the fourth with a four-run inning, tallying five hits off Fairmont reliever Christian Petchske and scoring all their runs with two outs. Center fielder Devin Ries’ double brought across Josh Cook and the first run of the game, followed by RBI-singles from leadoff hitter Zach Mullin and Blake Matuska to put Mankato up 4-0.
Fairmont came back with its first two runs in the sixth inning to bring the game back to a close 4-2 score.
Mankato reliever Caleb Johnson walked the first two batters of the inning and loaded the bases compliments of a single from Fairmont’s Ryan Noll. Jay Ruen’s sacrifice fly to right field brought in the first Fairmont run of the
game and a passed ball would bring in run No. 2 of the inning.
The Nationals woes continued in the seventh when Johnson left the game with the bases loaded and the tying run on second base off an error, a single and a walk. Ries then took the mound for the Nationals and walked in the next two runs to tie the score at 4. Ries then struck out the next batter for the first out of the inning, followed by a sacrifice fly from Fairmont’s Bryce Holm to
give Fairmont the lead.
Fairmont was not finished, however, as another National error brought in another run, followed by a single from Spencer Chirpach and a double from Levi Becker to bring in the eighth run of the inning and put the score at 10-4.
Jay Ruen picked up the win for Fairmont, going the final three innings and letting up one run in the seventh to make the final 10-5.
Cook and Shane Sellner led all Mankato hitters with three hits apiece. Zach Mullin finished 2 for 4 with two RBI’s and a run scored for the Nationals.