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Lions sweep regular-season series against Wildcats

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Fairfield's Zane Matthews, who went 3-for-3 against Whiteoak, is pictured sliding during their SHAC and county rivalry game. (HCP Photos/Stephen Forsha)
Stephen Forsha, The Highland County Press

Thursday saw the Fairfield Lions earn the regular-season sweep of rival Whiteoak in Southern Hills Athletic Conference play, using a five-run second inning to set the pace for the remainder of the game, winning by an 8-2 score at Fairfield High School. 

Earlier this season, Fairfield defeated Whiteoak, 2-0. The win improves Fairfield to 11-3 overall and 8-2 in the SHAC Division II standings, as they sit in first place. WHS moves to 13-4 overall, and they are 7-3 in the SHAC Division II standings, currently third place. 

Before the big five-run second inning by the Lions, the first inning saw both teams score a run, leaving the score tied at 1-1 after one inning. 

Whiteoak’s top of the first saw Kaden Moon-Stone reach first base on an error with one out. With two outs, Moon-Stone scored off a base hit by Jacob Kiley to right field. 

Fairfield scored their first run of the game as Cade Miller walked to lead off the bottom of the first for the Lions. After a fly ball out, Zane Matthews forced a walk, moving Miller to second base.

Miller went to third on a fielder’s choice, and in the same sequence, scored on an error for the 1-1 score. 

Whiteoak was retired three-up, three-down by Miller with a groundout, called third strike and a swinging strike three in the top of the second, and then came the bottom of the second where the entire landscape of the game shifted in favor of the Lions. 

“[Whiteoak] had a few miscues that you normally won't see them have, and we were able to take advantage of those miscues,” Fairfield head coach Kyle Zimmerman said. “We got some runs early, and that kind of set the tone for the ballgame. That got us hyped up a little bit — not that we weren't ready for the ballgame, but if you get the momentum on your side, it’s easy to keep going.”

The inning began with Fairfield out with a lead-off ground out, but that was followed by a double by Carson Chandler, and a single off the bat of Blaine Fauber, moving Chandler to third. 

After the second out, Chandler scored off a Miller single, and Fauber raced to third base for a 2-1 lead. Miller then went to second on a defensive indifference, and Gabe Fouch reached on an error, scoring both Miller and Fauber for a 4-1 lead. 

Next was a double by Matthews that landed in right field, scoring Fouch, moving the score to 5-1 in favor of the host Lions. The score went to 6-1 with Corbin Willey reaching first base on an error, allowing Matthews to take home plate for the run. 

“The second inning, defensively, was very uncharacteristic of us,” Whiteoak head coach Chris Vedit said. “We built this team on pitching and defense, and in that second inning, there were seven freebies. Zander, I thought, made a nice adjustment with some of his mechanical things there, and if at that point in time, we locked in comparable, but we just couldn't, wouldn’t, throw and catch behind him in that situation. In any baseball game, that's more freebies than you should have in the game, let alone an inning, and quite frankly, we were lucky to get through it. 

“I will say this about us. I mean, I felt like it shouldn't have to take something like that to wake you up, but I felt like we came back after that and were competitive, but we just put ourselves in way too deep of a hole.” 

WHS scored their second and what became their final run in the third when Zander Roades (who reached on a walk) crossed home plate off an error in centerfield for a 6-2 score. 

Fairfield scored two final runs in the bottom of the fourth when Fouch scored off a base hit by Willey, followed by Matthews scoring off a fielder’s choice for the 8-2 score. 

“We had everybody tonight, all 10 batters, reach base at some point time or another,” Zimmerman said. “That's crucial. We got base runners on when we needed to get base runners on, were able to get the key RBIs that we needed. At the end of the day, that sets the tone and got us the win.”

The Lions finished the game with 11 hits and two errors, while the Wildcats had four hits and three errors. 

“We're just going to have to go back to playing Wildcat baseball, be resilient, and learn from our mistakes,” Veidt said. “We tell kids ‘admit it, learn from it, don't repeat it,’ and I think it's hard not to admit what happened today. So we're just going to learn from it and not repeat it.” 

Miller ended the game 2-for-3 with a double, two runs, one RBI and a walk. Fouch was 1-for-4 with two runs, and Matthews went a perfect 3-for-3 with two runs, one RBI and one walk. 

Willey was 1-for-4 with an RBI, while Cohen Frost finished with one RBI. 

Chandler was 1-for-3 (a double) with a run and a walk, while teammate Fauber went 2-for-3 with a run and one walk. Zimmerman was 1-for-3 (a double) in the win. Wyatt Willey was hit by a pitch, while Matthews and Miller each had steals. 

Kiley had two of the four Whiteoak hits, going 2-for-2 with one RBI. Dakota Clift was 1-for-2 with a walk, and Jacen Applegate went 1-for-3. 

Miller was the winning pitcher for the Lions, pitching all seven innings, allowing two runs (one earned) on four hits and three walks, as he struck out 12 batters. 

“Cade did a fantastic job on the mound for us,” Zimmerman said. “We were up in the air whether it was going to be Gabe Fouch or Cade Miller. Both are having fantastic seasons. 

“We decided to go with Cade. There was never a shadow of doubt in my mind that he could get the job done this evening, and he proved it.”

Roades was charged with the loss, pitching two innings, allowing six runs (one earned) on four hits and two walks with two strikeouts. Eli Roberts pitched 2.1 innings, allowing no runs on three hits and a walk with three strikeouts. Kiley pitched 1.2 innings, allowing two earned runs on four hits and one walk. 

    101 000 0 — 2 4 3
FHS    150 200 x — 8 11 2

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