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Fairmont looks to carry hot season into state tournament vs. Sibley East

Fairmont and Sibley East meet in the opening round at Dick Putz Field on Tuesday.
Published: Jun. 13, 2022 at 8:58 PM CDT|Updated: Jun. 13, 2022 at 11:16 PM CDT
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FAIRMONT, Minn. (KEYC) - Ahead of qualifying for the Class AA Minnesota State High School Baseball Tournament, Fairmont sent Paynesville Area and Luverne packing in the Section 3AA Tournament for some long-awaited redemption, after both programs knocked the Cardinals out of the last two postseasons.

“I feel like those two wins on Thursday really got us a lot of confidence. Paynesville is a state-level team, they’re a great team. They were undefeated. We got rocked by them on Saturday. After that, the mentality stayed the same in practice and we knew we could take them. Got there, put the bats together, two great pitching games by me and Eli, got it done,” Fairmont senior right-handed pitcher Jacob Crissinger said.

Crissinger is the Cardinals’ ace on the rubber, producing 72 strikeouts in 62 1/3 innings of work with an ERA of 1.46. But Fairmont’s top-rank for a majority of the season is an ode to the team’s bullpen depth that has been supported by a high-powered offense and stingy defense.

“There’s not a play that our whole defense can’t make. Our outfield is amazing. They track down every ball, they’re so fast. I feel like they’re all just magnets out there, it makes me so confident that when it comes off the bat there’s a great chance they’re going to get caught,” added Crissinger.

The last time Fairmont advanced to state was in 2014 when the Cardinals finished as runner-ups after failing to get one last strike against St. Cloud Cathedral which proved to be the difference-maker.

The five current seniors weren’t a part of that team, but still used it as a learning experience.

“They’re very resilient, things aren’t looking good at times, but they kept their composure took a deep breath and just picked each other up. One guy might have failed, another kid picks him up. Same with me, making mistakes on the base path then these kids come around and make up for it as well,” head coach Don Waletich said.

The road to redemption begins Tuesday at 10 a.m. at Dick Putz Field in St. Cloud, where Fairmont will face a sneaky Sibley East team that is riding a five-game win streak to enter the contest.

“Treating everybody like they’re all really good and deserve to be here, cause they deserve to be here. They’re in state, a part of the final eight. They deserve it just as much as us, so I think if we take it that way we’ll come out on top,” said senior INF/P Eli Anderson.

As for Sibley East, the Wolverines advanced to the Class AA State Tournament with a big 4-3 win over New Ulm. Of course the Wolverines are in for a tough task right away, drawing top-seed Fairmont in the opening round.

Jake Schmidt is the Wolverine to keep an eye on in the matchup. The senior pitcher boasts a 1.71 ERA on the year, along with a .586 batting average to lead the team.

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