The duo of Hunter Nelson and John Palmer combined to shut down top-ranked Byron on Saturday in Byron, but the Bears eventually tallied just enough offense to squeak out a victory in the Section 1AAA quarterfinals.

Eighth-seeded Faribault surged ahead for a 1-0 lead in the top of the first thanks to an erratic start from Byron pitcher John Lutzi. He walked Nelson to start the game, and Nelson eventually scored the first run after another walk and two hit by pitches forced him across the plate. Lutzi ended up settling down to hurl a complete game with 11 strikeouts and only two hits allowed. 

Palmer started and fired three innings while allowing only two hits and one walk. He was charged with a run after he started the fourth inning but did not record an out before Nelson cleaned up any loose baserunners to keep the game tied 1-1.

The Bears jumped in front 2-1 in the bottom of the fifth, however, with an unearned run to charge Nelson with the loss despite not allowing an earned run in three innings of relief. Faribault finished the game with four errors.

The Falcons nearly scored in the top of the fifth, when Nelson reached third base but was stranded when Jordan Nawrocki lined out to third. In the top of the sixth, Cade McCusker was stranded at second base.

Faribault next travels to play Tuesday at fourth-seeded Red Wing in an elimination game. Since Palmer threw only 53 pitches and Nelson 48, both will be available to pitch again. Red Wing was upset Saturday by fifth-seeded Austin in a 6-5 loss.

The Falcons and Wingers split a doubleheader this season, with Faribault winning the first game 6-2 and Red Wing claiming the second contest 12-2.

Reach Regional Sports Editor Michael Hughes at 645-1106 or follow him on Twitter @APGSoMnHughes. © Copyright 2021 APG Media of Southern Minnesota. All rights reserved. 

Sports Editor for the Northfield News. Also a California native looking for tips on surviving the winter and an Indiana University grad on the quest for a good breaded pork tenderloin.

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