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Legion baseball: Pitchers stifle wood bats at first Fredrickson Invitational

Four strong pitching performances helped the Farmington Legion Post 189 baseball team win its pool and go 2-2 at the Fredrickson Wood Bat Invitational, which was held over the weekend in Elko and Lakeville.

The efforts of Justin Lavey and Justin Tang, a pair of All-Missota Conference pitchers for the Tigers this spring, carried Post 189 to back-to-back 4-3 wins over South St. Paul and Anderson, Neb., in the first two games of the tournament. Then Zach Wallace and Cody Carlson stepped up to hold Hastings and Lakeville South in check during a pair of tightly-contested losses (3-1 and 2-1) in the tourney's final two games.

"The nice thing is they all threw strikes and trusted their defense. Throwing strikes is so important with wood bats," Farmington coach Andy Pierskalla said. "Not everyone is hitting the ball hard with wood bats and if pitchers throw strikes they're going to get a lot of ground outs and fly outs. Knowing that, our pitchers were really able to dominate a lot of the hitters they faced."

Lavey held South St. Paul to three hits over the first six innings in Friday night's tournament opener in Elko. But South St. Paul finally got its offense going in the seventh and rallied with three runs on three hits to send the game into extra innings.

Lavey ended up scoring the winning run when he led off the ninth with a single and scored on Mike Jolliff's RBI double. It was Jolliff's third big hit of the game. He also provided RBI singles in the first and the seventh.

Danny Tutewohl took over on the mound for Lavey and threw 2 2/3 scoreless innings of relief to pick up the win.

Post 189 trailed Anderson, Neb., 3-0 Saturday morning in Elko before rallying for one run in the sixth and three more in the seventh to nab the walk-off win.

Tutewohl got Farmington on the board with an RBI double in the bottom of the sixth.

An inning later, Cody Carlson led off a wild seventh frame with a single. With two outs, Steven Barber, Jolliff and Tutewohl reached on three straight infield singles. Tang then ripped a solid single to left to score the tying run, and a bobble by the left fielder allowed Jolliff to come in with the winning run.

"It was really exciting. We were down the entire game. They were making better contact and the pitcher seemed to have our number," Pierskalla said. "We stuck with it and never quit. It was great to see that from the guys."

The rally made a winner of Tang, who worked seven strong innings. He allowed three runs on five hits while walking two and striking out one.

Post 189 wrapped up pool play with a 3-1 loss to Hastings Saturday night in Lakeville.

Hastings was hitless against Wallace through five innings before plating three runs on three hits to take a 3-1 lead. Wallace finished with four strikeouts and two walks in the tough-luck loss.

Farmington scored its lone run in the fifth when Matt Molitor singled and scored on Barber's single. Post 189 finished with seven hits.

After posting a 2-1 record in pool play, Farmington was matched up against Lakeville South in Sunday morning's semifinals. The game remained scoreless through four innings, then South pushed across single runs in the fifth and sixth to score a 2-1 victory.

Carlson started on the mound and held Lakeville South to one run through five innings. Tang took the loss after allowing one run in two innings of relief.

Farmington's lone run came when Carlson singled and scored on a Lavey single.

Post 189, now 4-3, is back in action Friday when it travels to Hastings for a doubleheader. The team hosts Zumbrota for a doubleheader beginning at noon on Saturday.