The Faribault Lakers scored early and often today in a 10-5 win over the Union Hill Bulldogs in the opening round of the Region 3C playoffs at Union Hill.  The Lakers Matt Lane pitched and also delivered at the plate with 5 hits and 4 RBI.  Faribault set the tone early with a 4 run first inning.  Union Hill came charging back with 3 runs in their half of the opening inning.  The Lakers would score four more runs over the next couple innings and Lane would hold Union Hill to five consecutive scoreless innings.

Dylan Valentyn stroked a two run home run off reliever Nathan Berg right after Berg took over from Union Hill starter Daniel Feneis.  Feneis lasted one batter into the third inning, facing 16 batters and allowing 7 runs, 6 earned and 5 hits.  He had no strikeouts and had 5 walks.  The last batter Feneis faced was Derek Ritter to start the third inning.  Ritter was walked and the left handed Feneis was lifted for the right handed throwing Berg.  Berg threw a couple of very nice breaking pitches but Valentyn worked the count full and jumped on a high fast ball smacking it over the extended left field fence making the score 8-3 at the time.

Lane was not fooling the Bulldogs hitters early but did settle into the game nicely retiring 8 in a row from the fourth through the sixth innings.  He struck out 8, walked 3, 1 intentionally and allowed 12 hits.  Eight of those hits came in the final three innings of the game.  Lane finished with 128 pitches thrown, 92 for strikes.

Union Hill would finish the day with four pitchers taking the mound.  Faribault had their chances to score more runs.  Three runners were thrown out on the bases, two at home plate.

Lane did a terrific job against Union Hill's best hitters.  Catcher Eric Bisek came into the game with 34 RBI  and 9 home runs.  He was intentionally walked in the first inning to set up a double play that did not materialize and did not have a hit.  Bisek did collect a RBI on a sacrifice fly in the bottom of the ninth inning.

Cleanup hitter Dusty Steinhoff came into the game with 15 RBI and 3 homers and was fanned twice with no hits against Lane.

Derek Ritter got the big hit in the first inning.  With the bases loaded he smacked the ball to right field where the right fielder let the ball get by him allowing Ritter to get to third base.  All runners on base scored making it a 4-0 lead.  It was ruled a double and an error.

With one out in the second inning Mitch Johnson clubbed a single to left center.  The Lakers top hitter coming into the game Joey Grote nearly hit a home run twice in his at bat and was walked.  Lane stroked his second hit and Ryan Archambault had an RBI single he tried to stretch into a double but was thrown out at second base.

Faribault scored a run in the fifth on Lane's fourth single and third RBI of the day.  Blake Langerud started the inning with a single and scored.  Lane tried a delay steal and was in a rundown between first and second where Mitch Johnson tried to score from third but was thrown out at the plate.

The Lakers other run came in the seventh on Lane's RBI double scoring Grote.

In the top of that inning Grote was hit in the face at shortstop, it swelled up but he played the entire game.

With the win Faribault is a victory away from a State Tournament berth.  Tuesday they travel to Prior Lake to play #2 seed St. Patrick because the Irish don't have lights.  First pitch is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.  If they win that game then they have a shot at a top seed and first weekend bye at the State Tournament being played in New Prague, Shakopee and Jordan.

In other Region 3C action Sunday top seed New Market defeated Shakopee 8-2 and New Prague rolled by Montgomery 13-3 to set up the other winner's bracket semi-final game.  New Market hosts New Prague in Veseli at 8:00 p.m.

Loser's bracket games Wednesday have Shakopee at Montgomery at 8:00 p.m. and St. Benedict hosting Union Hill in Veseli at 8:00 p.m.  Losers of those games are out of the tournament.

The Lakes split with St. Patrick during the regular season, winning 6-0 at home and losing 3-2 at St. Patrick.

Union Hill Field Silo Down Left Field Line. Photo by Gordy Kosfeld