By Steve Keenan
Come on, Pirates.
Come on, Renegades.
Come on, sun.
Fayetteville and Westside showed up, but the sun very rarely did during a cold, gray, wind-swept morning game Thursday in the second annual Spring Break Wood Bat Classic at Fayetteville’s Huse Memorial Park.
On the heels of an 11-1 loss to Woodrow Wilson in the morning’s first game, the Pirates survived the miserable weather conditions — and the Renegades — to post a 6-2 triumph in a contest during which neither squad played particularly well.
After Westside pulled to within one, 3-2, on an RBI single from Drew Bragg in the top of the fifth inning, the Pirates responded by pushing across two runs in the fifth and one more in the sixth to create enough cushion for the triumph. In the fifth, Fayetteville’s Trey Phares launched a sacrifice fly, which scored teammate Hunter Sizemore, then the Pirates’ Brian Gore crossed home plate on a Westside error to make it 5-2.
In the bottom of the sixth, the Pirates plated an insurance run when Troy Farrell reached home on a Westside throwing error.
Fayetteville pitcher Aaron Krise walked Dakota Bailey to start the seventh, induced Tyler Copley to hit into a groundout and then fanned Jeff Brown and Dakota Paynter to end the game.
Fayetteville coach Dan Poland was happy his team got the win, but he wasn’t overly impressed.
“It was a very ugly game,” he said, referring to numerous errors and misplayed balls by both squads.
“We just take a very lackadaisical approach to the game,” Poland added. “We’re not in the right mind-set.”
“A couple of base-running mistakes killed us,” said Westside coach Jeremy Hedinger, whose team dipped to 1-5. “We’re a young team this year.
“We graduated five seniors who contributed a lot, and we started four freshmen (on Thursday). We’re having some growing pains.”
But, the Renegades are showing progress, such as in a 12-0 defeat of Richwood and a 5-1 loss to Class AAA Woodrow Wilson, both on Wednesday in the Wood Bat Classic. “We’re staying competitive. We just have to find a way to win some of these close games.”
Fayetteville scored the game’s first two runs in the first frame when James Criss lifted a fly ball down the right field line to bring home Krise, who had singled up the middle, and Jake Holland, who reached on an error.
An inning later, Gore’s RBI single made it 3-0.
Westside cut into the deficit when Nick Elswick scored on a Fayetteville throwing error in the fourth, making it 3-1. That run would have trimmed the deficit to one run if, in the previous inning, the Renegades would have taken advantage of having base runners on the corners with one out. Instead, Copley flied out for the second out and, on the same play, Bailey — who had singled — was doubled off base by the Pirates to end that threat. Bragg had crossed home plate but the run didn’t count.
Another possible Renegade run was snuffed out when Fayetteville’s Colin Schell throw out Westside’s Matt Evans at the plate in the top of the sixth, and Westside stranded two more runners.
On the mound, Krise struck out 11 batters in keeping Westside in check for most of the day. After the Renegades pulled to within 3-2 in the first portion of the crucial fifth inning, Krise — with runners at first and second — struck out Copley, Brown and Paynter to prevent any further damage. “He got into jams and got out of jams,” Poland said of Krise. “That (the three strikeouts in the fifth) was big.”
In the Woodrow-Fayetteville matchup, the Flying Eagles rolled up seven runs in the first inning and Hunter Greco surrendered only one run on two hits.
Greco, Logan Wriston and Chase Metrick each had two hits to lead Woodrow Wilson, which advanced to the championship game.
Holland and Krise had one hit apiece for Fayetteville.
Fayetteville (6-4) faced Richwood Friday to continue tournament play. For a tourney follow-up, see Thursday’s Tribune.
Fayetteville 6, Westside 2
W: 000 110 0 — 2 5 3
F: 210 021 x — 6 7 3
W: Casey Davis and Matt Evans. F: Aaron Krise and Jake Cogar. WP — Krise. LP — Davis. Hitting — W: Drew Bragg 2-3 (RBI). F: Brian Gore 2-3 (RBI), James Criss 1-2 (2 RBI), Trey Phares (RBI).
Records: Fayetteville (6-4), Westside (1-5).