ST. CLOUD — Fairmont’s Eli Anderson pitched a six-hit complete-game mound masterpiece and etched his name into the Minnesota State High School League’s Class AA state baseball tournament record books with two more triples during Wednesday’s championship semifinal at Dick Putz Field.
Anderson went 3-for-4 — his second consecutive game with a pair of triples — scored two runs and collected one RBI, while Jack Kosbab generated a game-best three RBIs via a double and a single to power the No. 1-seeded Cardinals to a 7-2 state semifinal triumph over the No. 5-seeded Rochester Lourdes Eagles in St. Cloud.
Fairmont (26-3), which is making its 11th state appearance, takes aim at its first-ever Class AA baseball championship against the unseeded Roseau Rams at 1 pm Friday at Target Field in Minneapolis.
Roseau (19-6), which upended No. 3-seeded Marshall School of Duluth in Tuesday’s quarterfinals, coasted to an 8-1 semifinal victory over unseeded St. Agnes on Wednesday to earn a spot in the state finals at the home of the Minnesota Twins.
Aaron Wensloff went 4-for-4 with two doubles and three RBIs, while Isaac Wensloff went 3-for-4 with a triple and three runs scored to top Roseau’s seven-run win over St. Agnes.
Aaron Wensloff allowed one run on five hits, struck out eight and walked two in seven innings pitched to earn the complete-game victory.
So, what’s the secret to Anderson’s record-setting offensive performance and shutdown pitching effort?
“Nervous energy, I guess,” said Anderson, who holds Fairmont’s single-season mark for triples with 10 this spring. “I’ve been so nervous the past two days that I couldn’t eat breakfast either this morning or yesterday morning (Tuesday).
“But once I stepped on the field, my confidence has been the key difference maker. I believe in my teammates and my own skills to get the job done and the rest is history.”
For the second state clash in a row, Kosbab converted the opposition’s miscues into clutch run production for the Cardinals. Zach Jorgensen and Nate Soelter each reached base on back-to-back Eagles’ errors with one out in the top of the first inning. Kosbab then smacked a towering two-run double to deep left field to plate Jorgensen and Soelter for an early 2-0 lead.
“I’m just seeing the ball better and making better contact,” said Kosbab, who’s produced six RBIs during the two-game span in St. Cloud.
Anderson’s postgame analysis then proved as true as Fairmont’s defense during the home half of the first. After allowing a leadoff infield hit to Lourdes’ Samuel Stanley, Soelter triggered the first of two double plays on the day for Fairmont by gloving a grounder, stepping on second base and completing the throw to first to empty the bases.
Landen Meyerdirk, who went 2-for-3, crushed a one-out delivery into the ivy-covered left-field wall for a ground-rule double in Fairmont’s second at-bat before Anderson drilled an RBI triple into the right-field corner . Jorgensen then lined up an RBI single down the left-field line to score Anderson to extend the Cardinals’ advantage to 4-0.
Kosbab then displayed his defensive prowess by making a hit-saving, diving snag near the right-field line before flipping to first base to a hustling Anderson for the initial out of Lourdes’ second at-bat.
Anderson then assisted his own cause by delivering a defensive gem of his own. With one out and a Lourdes runner at first, Seth Haight dropped down a bunt in front of the plate, but Fairmont’s senior right-hander fired to second base from his knees, after slipping, to nab the lead runner in the second frame.
The Cardinals manufactured two more runs in the top of the fourth. Levi Pooley walked, Meyerdirk legged out a bunt hit and Anderson bunted for another infield hit to load the bases. Soelter drew an RBI walk before another run scored on Kosbab’s right-side groundout.
Lourdes then assembled its only legitimate threat of the day during the home half of the fourth inning. Samuel Schneider singled before courtesy runner Cole Smith moved to second base on a walk to Nick Bowron with two outs.
Haight smacked a hard-hit single to right field to jam the base paths before Brendan Davick drilled a two-run single up the middle to slice the Eagles’ deficit to 6-2. Anderson, however, notched one of his five strikeouts to escape any further damage.
Soelter and second baseman Lincoln Becker then turned another double play for Fairmont during the bottom of the fifth. Stanley slugged a leadoff single for Lourdes, but one out later Joseph Sperry blasted a liner up the middle that Soelter gloved at short and flipped to Becker at second base to double off Stanley.
Anderson hammered his fourth triple in two tournament games to begin the top of the sixth before scoring on Jorgensen’s sacrifice fly to left for a 7-2 margin.
Anderson pitched a 1-2-3 sixth before working around a walk to Davick and Stanley’s third hit of the state semifinal during the bottom of the seventh to seal the win.
Lourdes left-hander Carter Wenszell allowed four runs — only two earned — on five hits in three innings pitched to receive the loss. Wenszell struck out one, hit one batter and did not issue a walk.
Right-hander Isaac Wenszell gave up three runs on four hits, struck out four and walked four in four injuries of relief for the Eagles.
FA 220 201 0 — 7 9 1
RL 000 200 0 — 2 6 2
Eli Anderson (WP) and Zach Jorgensen. Carter Wenszell (LP), Isaac Wenszell (4) and Samuel Schneider.
LOB–Fairmont 8, Lourdes 6. 2B–Jack Kosbab (FA) and Landen Meyerdirk (FA). 3B–Eli Anderson (FA) 2. SF–Zach Jorgensen.