LEESBURG – In two games this week, the Fairfield Lions have scored a combined 25 runs, and 10 of those came in a five-inning run-rule victory in Southern Hills Athletic Conference play Tuesday night over the visiting Whiteoak Wildcats by a 10-0 score.
The Lions used their presence at the plate with nine hits, plus they took advantage of three Whiteoak errors to gain the win. Even with those factors, plus their errorless defense, was the pitching of starter and winning pitcher Sam Buddelmeyer.
Fairfield’s Buddelmeyer earned his first win of the season and did so by not allowing a run in five innings. In the outing, his third of the season, he allowed just two hits and walked two, while also finishing the game with five strikeouts as he threw 60 pitches in the conference win.
Of his 60 pitches, Buddelmeyer threw 38 for strikes and his fly ball-to-groundout ratio was a even 4-to-4. The FHS starting pitcher threw eight first-pitch strikes.
Buddelmeyer’s pitching saw him not allow a hit until the top of the fourth inning, and the first base runner for WHS didn’t come until the top of the third on a walk. He also didn’t face more than three batters in an inning until the fifth inning.
As for that third inning, WHS reached base for the first time with a walk forced by Zach Harless to start the inning on four straight pitches. From there, Buddelmeyer struck out the next batter, and the Lions defense took over with the first of two double plays in the game.
Chase Butler was the first WHS player to gain a hit with one out in the fourth inning off a base hit that dropped in right field. The next batter for WHS hit into a double play to end the inning. In the fifth, WHS began the inning with a base hit by Caleb West, followed wth a walk by Brandon Lowe. Next came two straight fly outs to right field, and the game ended with a fly ball hit to left field.
“That really was a good win for us,” Fairfield head coach Tony Haley said. “We played Peebles Monday night and finally got some game action. We knew going into this game that Whiteoak was going to be really tough, but we felt like we had a good guy going on the hill tonight in Sam.
“He really pitched a good game, but our defense played really well too. We turned two double plays, which is big, and had a big catch to end an inning. If you have a real well-pitched game, you want your defense to play well, and they did. We just hit enough to win. It was a good win against a really good team today.”
As for the Lions and their offense, they scored four runs in the bottom of the second inning and never looked back. The game-changing inning began with Tucker Ayres drawing a walk, followed by Eli Potts reaching base on an error.
Next, Austin Setty took first base on an error and then a strikeout in the next at-bat gave FHS two outs. A single by Mason Cain, followed by a walk from Mathew Spears, a single from Cody Gragg, a fielder’s choice from Klay Walker and a walk by Buddelmeyer eventually left the score at 4-0. Scoring runs in the inning were Potts, Setty, Cain and Spears.
“We are always going to play hard, but it just boils down to the second inning. We have to make two routine plays and not walk the lead-off batter,” WHS head coach Chris Veidt said. “After that, Evan was on fumes because of his pitch count.
“On the positive side of it, we had some great at-bats. After that point, we started to get some quality at-bats. We didn’t score any runs, we hit balls hard right at people into a double play, and they make some great plays in the field. You just cannot make the routine play and expect to be a team as good as Fairfield, at their place, when the pitcher is good as Buddelmeyer on the mound. It is that simple.”
Spears finished the game with three runs, three walks and one RBI. Gragg was 2-for-4 with one run and two RBIs in the win. In all, the Lions had four batters with two hits, including Walker at 2-for-3 with one run, one walk and one RBI; Buddelmeyer at 2-for-3 with one run and four RBIs; and Cain at 2-for-3 with two runs.
“I told the guys, let’s just hit the ball really hard, and they had a couple bobbles and stuff and we ran them really hard,” Haley said. “We preach to put the pressure on their defense, and we did.”
The Lions were scoreless in the third, but that wasn’t the case in the fourth with another four-run inning with Spears, Gragg, Walker and Buddelmeyer all rounding the bases, including a triple from Buddelmeyer. FHS opened the fourth with a walk (Spears), a single (Gragg), a single (Walker), a triple (Buddelmeyer) and a single (Ayres) until the first out was recorded.
Fairfield’s final two runs were scored by Cain, who singled to start the inning and Spears, who walked to reach the bases. Cain scored on a wild pitch and Spears scored on a base hit by Buddelmeyer.
Also in the win, Andrew Dingey had one walk. For the game, the Lions totaled seven walks and struck out just three times.
The loss was charged to Evan Brill of WHS. He pitched three innings, allowing eight runs (four earned) on seven hits and five walks. He finished with three strikeouts, throwing a total of 81 pitches. Brayden Yeager and Ryan Roberts pitched in relief. Yeager pitched one inning of relief, allowing two runs (one earned) on two hits and two walks.
“We had a big week ahead of us, as we are in a must-win situation with every league game we play now,” Veidt said. “Not that we weren’t before, but we now have four league losses. It’s reachable, but we are going to have to come out every day and fight every pitch. We have North Adams Thursday and at Manchester on Friday. Right now, it is just do or die.”
Next for the Lions is a game on Thursday at Fayetteville, followed by a game Friday at North Adams, both being SHAC games.
“From here on out, it doesn’t get any easier,” Haley said. “In our dugout, we have a quote that says, ‘It doesn’t get easier, we just have to get better,’ so we are just going to keep working hard.”