By: Joe Blystone
WEST UNITY – Sometimes the best laid plans don’t go exactly the way they were planned.
Clinging to a 6-5 lead over Fayette in the fifth, Tony Gerig’s Hilltop Cadets failed twice to lay down sacrifice bunts to get an insurance run on the board.
But for every darkened tunnel there is light at the end as both those botched attempts turned into same at-bat, base hits that ignited a six-run rally that proved to be the difference in a 12-9 Hilltop victory.
“Our kids at times did not execute very well at all today,” Gerig said regarding the missed bunts.
“But what I will say is that when things didn’t exactly go the right way, we maintained ourselves well enough to make enough plays, including those hits, to win a baseball game. Anytime you win a ball game you’ve got to be happy.”
Hilltop grabbed an early four run lead against Eagle starter Caden Leininger in the first.
After a walk and muffed fly ball, Cadet starting pitcher Cameron Schlosser doubled to right center to mark a pair of runs, then Zander Runkel’s single plated another with an ensuing throwing error bringing in the fourth.
Fayette got two back in the second without a hit when Skylar Lester walked, Carter Lavinder was hit by a pitch, a couple of wild pitches, then after a walk to Dane Andrews, the Eagles worked the first and third double steal for a second tally.
Back-to-back triples in the second by Wade Wagner and Raace Haynes and an infield error regained a four-run bulge at 6-2 but the Eagles came back to shave the margin to a run in the third.
A Chase Moats double to center field, then a two-out boot, Lester’s run scoring single, and a throwing error that allowed Lester to circle the bases made it 6-5.
That’s when Gerig went to the bullpen and brought Devin Dempsey to the mound.
The sophomore righty blew away five of the first six Eagle hitters he saw on strikes and came up with the biggest blow in the Cadets’ six-run fifth.
“Our future here is ripe and a lot of that begins with a kid like Devin,” Gerig stated. “We have leaned on him a lot.”
“He has played a lot of baseball. He is our leader even only as a sophomore. When he goes well, we go well.”
“He wasn’t scheduled to pitch today but we needed him to and Devin being the great kid he is said ‘Ok coach’ and he went out there and attacked.”
Brady Wagner reached on an error to begin the big frame, and after both Kasen Rediger and Drew Bailey failed on sacrifice attempts, each bounced base hits through the infield to boost the Cadet lead to 8-5.
A ground out brought home the third run of the inning and after Haynes singled and Schlosser walked, Dempsey delivered with a drive the deep right center in which he circled the bases for an inside the park three-run homer and a 12-5 margin.
Fayette got one back in the sixth on Gavin Figgins’ RBI single and used a variety of Cadet mistakes in the seventh to bring in three more scores on just one hit.
Brady Wagner finally extinguished the fire by striking out three of the last four hitters to close the game.
“We are definitely a young team, we only have two seniors,” Gerig said after the game. “We are taking this day by day to build the baseball IQ of this group.”
“The future is bright, there will be lumps along the way but it’s better to take lessons and learn from them with a ‘W'”.
FAYETTE 023 001 3 – 9 4 4
HILLTOP 420 060 x – 12 8 6
Records: Hilltop 4-3 (1-1 BBC), Fayette 1-3 (0-2 BBC)
WINNING PITCHER: Schlosser (3 innings, 2 hits, 5 runs, 2 earned, 4 strikeouts, 3 walks) Others: Dempsey, Wagner
LOSING PITCHER: Leininger (4.2 innings, 7 hits, 10 runs 4 earned, 9 strikeouts, 4 walks) Other: Maginn
LEADING HITTERS: (Fayette) Moats – double; (Hilltop) Dempsey – home run, 4 RBIs, 2 runs; W. Wagner triple, RBI, 2 runs; Haynes – triple, single, RBI, 3 runs; Schlosser – double, RBI, 2 runs
Joe can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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