They came one game short of playing for state. It was a memorable season for Fillmore Central/Lanesboro baseball. Their final week included three playoff elimination games in Austin, two wins, before things finally ended. It came down to pitching as the Falcons (3-seed, 15-7) played United South Central (4-seed, 15-5). FC/L got on the board with two in their first inning. USC scored in each of the first three innings, five unanswered runs, to lead 5-3. The score was 6-3 heading to the sixth when the Rebels mound faculties expired. Two days prior, versus Mabel-Canton, starter Zale Bushlack went the distance in a 7-5 win. Prior to playing FC/L, in a 1A winner’s bracket semifinal, Taybor Conley went the distance in a 5-3 loss. Aiden Crabtree used up his pitch allotment after 5 2/3 innings versus the Falcons. USC had to go to 7th grader Mason Haugh. He came in with the score 6-4 and a Falcon on second base. A hit batter and three walks later, the score was tied 6-6. Gunner Benson then authored a bases-loaded infield hit to put the Falcons ahead 7-6 before the inning ended. But in USC’s sixth, a single, a walk, and RBI hits by Conley and Bushlack put the Rebels back ahead 8-7. FC/L was down to their last at bat. Nine-hole hitter Jacob Mandelko doubled to lead off the inning. Ty Sexton’s single and another hit-batter had the bases loaded with one out. Stephen Schultz then tied the game 8-8 with an RBI sac fly. Josh Jones’ Falcons then got two clutch, two-run, two-out singles. Frosh Levi Rogers made it 10-8 and by Cooper Ferrie to make it 12-8. Rogers took the mound in the seventh and battled to three outs. The Falcons posted a 12-8 comeback win. Ferrie (3-5, 2B, 2 RBI) and Rogers (1-3, 3 RBI, R) had the biggest hits. The latter (3 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 3 BB, 4 K) collected the victory in relief of Benson (4 IP, 4 H, 5 R, 4 ER, 3 BB, 5 K, No Decision). Bryce Corson (2-4, three SB, RBI, 2 R) and Schultz (2-3, 2B, RBI, R) also had multiple knocks. Sexton (1-4, 3 R), Dillon O’Connor (1-3, 2 R), Benson (1-4, RBI), and Mandelko (1-5, 2B, R) added ancillary offense. Kolt Bullerman (2-4, 3 RBI), Nate Bushlack (1-3, 2B, 2 RBI, R), and Z-Bushlack (1-3, RBI, 2 R) led USC’s offense. Rebel starter Crabtree (5 2/3 IP, 7 H, 5 R, 3 ER, 3 BB, 3 K) was much more effective than his successors (1 1/3 IP, 6 H, 7 R, 7 ER, 3 BB, 4 HBP, 0 K). The Falcons (3-seed, 16-7) then re-matched with Hayfield (6-seed, 14-10). FC/L took out its frustrations for an earlier 9-6 play-off loss. Trailing 2-1, FC/L had a nine-run fourth inning. Olson led off with a game-tying solo home run. The Vikings pitching then struggled (three walks, two hit batters). A two-run Hayfield error also helped FC/L. The Falcons had four hits in their final six batters in the inning to really jack up the scoring. They tacked on two more runs a frame later (Olson 2-run double) and posted a 12-2 win in five innings. Olson (3-4, 2B, HR, 3 RBI, 2 R) led the way. Ferrie (2-2, RBI, R), Sexton (1-4, 2 RBI, R), O’Connor (1-3, 2 R), and Benson (1-2, RBI, R) helped. Lead-off man Corson (0-0, RBI, 2 R) walked four times, as FCL did so nine times to Hayfield’s six. Benson (2 2/3 IP, 1 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 5 BB, 2 K) and Sexton (2 1/3 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 1 K, Win) did the pitching. Hayfield was credited with six errors to FCL’s 0. The Falcons (3-seed, 17-7) then played Southland (2-seed, 15-3). After FC/L tied the game 1-1 in the top of the fourth, the Rebels had the all-critical frame in the bottom. They scored four runs all without a hit, playing small ball which included four bunts. Walks and errors hindered FC/L in the inning, as Southland went ahead 5-1. The Rebs lead was 8-1 before FC/L got a couple in the seventh, but fell 8-3. Benson (2-3, 2 RBI), Rogers (1-2, RBI, R), and Olson (1-3, R) did damage for FC/L. Ferrie (3 IP, 3 H, 5 R, 2 ER, 3 BB, 2 K, Loss) and Rogers (3 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 2 BB, 0 K) did the pitching. Jack Bruggeman (2-2, 2 RBI, 3 R), Tyson Stevens (2-4, 3B, R), and Jonah Wiste (1-2, 2B, RBI, 2 R) led the Rebels. Travis Kirtz (7 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 1 BB, 5 K) collected the win. FC/L’s season ends at 17-8. The section third place finish matches their highest placing ever (2015). It is their third Final Four appearance all since 2013. That year, current head coach Josh Jones was a junior, and assistant coach Nick Mensink a sophomore. Mensink was a senior in 2015, as Falcon baseball came full circle for the coaching duo this year. FC/L is senior-laden, with Corson, Sexton, O’Connor, Olson, Schultz, Benson, and Ferrie. Said seven brought FC/L baseball back to the forefront after it did not field a team in 2019 (and COVID zapped 2020). The group has been core to the FC/L squad the last three years.
About Paul Trende