PREP BASEBALL: Falcons soar past Fosston, 11-1 in opening round of the state tournament

Photo by Brennen Rupp RRC/WWG’s Mitchell Willhite fires a throw to first base during their game against Fosston Thursday in the state tournament.

JORDAN – Momentum is a crazy thing. If a team scores the game’s first run it isn’t an indicator that they are going to win the game. However, it helps the team ease into the game and relax. That’s exactly what happened for the Red Rock Central/Westbrook-Walnut Grove Falcons in Jordan on Thursday during their state tournament opening round game against Fosston.

The Falcons kept Fosston off the board in the first inning and then went to work in the bottom of the first inning. Corey Maras drove in the game’s first run on an RBI single. Maras was able to advance to third on a throwing error. Trevor Pederson then smacked an RBI double to put the Falcons up 2-0.

“To score first was really important today,” RRC/WWG coach, Derrick Jenniges said. “We weren’t sure if we were going to be tight or a little bit nervous. I feel like once we got those first two runs and Austin (Irlbeck) hit that home run we started to relax and had some good at bats. Even the balls we hit for outs were hard hit. I don’t think we had a bad at bat all day long.”

In the top of the sixth inning, RRC/WWG’s starting pitcher, Taylor Bunting set down Fosston in order to get the Falcons back in the dugout. In the bottom half of the inning with two outs, Austin Irlbeck hit a solo home run over the right field wall to put the Falcons up 3-0.

For the Falcons two-out hitting has been their calling card all season. That theme continued on Thursday, as their first three runs all came with two outs.

“It was something we’ve done all season,” Jenniges said. “We’ve been able to get two-out hits. It’s just one of those things that everybody believes they can drive in a run.”

Bunting was able to set down the first two batters in the third inning. It was a stretch in which Bunting set down eight straight batters.

That’s when Fosston picked up some clutch two-out hitting of their own. They were able to string together three hits and score one run to cut RRC/WWG’s lead to 3-1.

The Falcons wasted little time in responding, as they pushed across four runs in the bottom half of the inning to push their lead to 7-1. It was once again Irlbeck coming up with a big hit, as he drove in two on an RBI double.

In the bottom of the fourth inning the Falcons added one more run thanks to a Fosston error. The Falcons added two more in the bottom of the fifth inning to extend their lead to 10-1.

With the bases loaded and just one out in the bottom of the sixth, Fosston’s pitcher walked in the game-ending run, as RRC/WWG defeated Fosston, 11-1 in six innings.

Every player that stepped to the plate for the Falcons reached base, either by picking up a hit or grinding out a walk. Irlbeck led the way by going 3-4 with a solo home run, double and three RBIs.

“Every at bat counted today,” Jenniges said. “There was never a chance for the opposing pitcher to relax. Cole Jackson had an 11-pitch at bat that ended with an infield fly, but it was a great at bat that stretched the pitch count out. Every at bat was stressful for the pitcher and the defense.”

Bunting pitched five innings and picked up the win for the Falcons. He scattered five hits and registered eight strikeouts.

“Taylor has had to pitch a lot for us lately,” Jenniges said. “He had a lot of three-ball counts for us today, which is the reason why he couldn’t pitch the sixth inning. He was able to get outs when he had to. It was a good team effort. Skyler came in and did a good job in the sixth. Everybody did their job.”

With the win the Falcons extended their winning streak to 16 games. They’ll play against Parkers Prairie in the state semifinals today at noon in Jordan at the Mini Met.

Parkers Prairie defeated Pillage, 8-0 during their opening round game. They own a 23-2 record and have won five straight games.

RRC/WWG 11, Fosston 1

Fosston 001 000 — 1 6 3

RRC/WWG 214 121 — 11 11 0

HITTING: RRC/WWG (Irlbeck 3-4; Pankonin 3-5; Maras 2-4; Pederson 1-2; Blomgren 2-4; Willhite 2-3).

PITCHING (IP-H-R-ER-BB-SO): Bunting 5-5-1-2-8; Reddemann 1-1-0-0-1).