MINNEAPOLIS — State champions.
Zach Jorgensen pitched a two-hit complete-game shutout, while also booking Fairmont’s pivotal seven-run sixth-inning offensive outburst to guide the Cardinals to a 7-0 triumph over the Roseau Rams in Friday’s Class AA state championship game at Target Field .
“It feels awesome,” said Fairmont head coach Don Waletich, whose No. The 1-seeded lineup produced the school’s first-ever state baseball crown in four trips to the finals. “This (state trophy) is for the 2020 team that never got the chance to play any games (due to the pandemic). It’s also for the 2014 team that was one strike away from a state title.
“Really, it represents all of the hard work that all of our coaches, players, fans and community members have put into this program to make it what it is today — a state champion.”
The Cardinals merited runner-up state baseball honors under the guidance of legendary mentor Herb Wolf in 1975, again in 1993 with Brad Huse at the helm and then in 2014 during Todd Sukalski’s incredible tenure that also included state appearances in 2010, 2011 and 2012.
With the hard-throwing 6-foot-4 Jorgensen and Roseau senior right-hander Brady DeMars locked up in a scoreless pitchers’ duel for five and a half innings, Fairmont finally erased the goose egg on the scoreboard during the bottom of the sixth inning in Minneapolis.
Jorgensen drew a leadoff walk before sprinting the remaining 270 feet to the plate when Nate Soelter’s sacrifice bunt was thrown down the right-field line for a 1-0 lead.
“I looked back at first when I was rounding second base and saw the throw sail over the first baseman’s head and into the outfield,” said Jorgensen, who’s a preferred walk-on for the Minnesota Gophers football team in the upcoming fall. “I saw Donnie (Waletich) waving me the entire way to third and zoomed home to score the first run of the game.”
DeMars issued a walk to Jack Kosbab before Gavin Rodning singled home Soelter to double the Cardinals’ margin. The Cardinals played “small-ball” again, and the Rams threw away the baseball again as Cooper Steuber’s bunt produced two runs and landed him on second base.
DeMars notched a strikeout and got an infield popout, but issued his fifth and final walk to cause his exit from the mound, with Roseau trailing 4-0.
Rams reliever Gavin Jensen did not have any better luck as Cardinals’ leadoff batter Eli Anderson unleashed a towering two-run triple to deep left-center to widen the gap to 6-0. Anderson extended his state tournament record for triples to five during a three-game span.
Jorgensen then capped the seven-run explosion by drilling an RBI single back through the box to plate Joseph Hackett — Anderson’s courtesy runner.
Despite having Soelter head to the Target Field bullpen to loosen up his pitching arm during the Cardinals’ 12-batter sixth inning, Waletich sent Jorgensen back to the mound in the top of the seventh.
“I told Jorgy in practice that I wanted him to start — and finish — the state championship game,” said Waletich. “He was at 103 pitches after six (innings), so we warmed up Nate just in case the (Roseau) at-bat got extended.
“Jorgy stepped up, as he has all season, and closed out our biggest game of the year.”
Ironically, Jorgensen hit the pitch limit — 115 — exactly in notching his seventh strikeout of the state finale to record the final out. He got back-to-back groundouts previously for his third 1-2-3 inning of the day.
Landen Meyerdirk and Levi Pooley each contributed singles to the Cardinals’ five-hit performance.
Isaac Wensloff, who’s a baseball commit to the University of Minnesota in Crookston, and Gavin Gunderson generated Roseau’s only hits on the game.
DeMars allowed six runs — all unearned — on just three hits, struck out three, walked five and hit one batter in 5 2/3 innings pitched to receive the loss for the Rams.
All-Class AA Honors. Eli Anderson, Zach Jorgensen, Jack Kosbab and Jacob Crissinger represented Fairmont on the 2022 Minnesota State High School League’s Class AA all-state baseball tournament team, along with Roseau’s Isaac Wensloff, Aaron Wensloff, Cooper Flaig and Gavin Gunderson.
Last Title? The Fairmont girls cross country team captured the school’s most recent state championship in 2016.
ROS 000 000 0 — 0 2 2
FMT 000 007 X — 7 5 1
Brady DeMars (LP), Gavin Jensen (6) and Alex Wensloff. Zach Jorgensen (WP) and Eli Anderson.
LOB–Fairmont 6; Roseau 6. 3B–Eli Anderson (FMT). SAC–Nate Soelter (FMT) and Cooper Steuber (FMT).