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Fairfield gets big road win over McClain

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Fairfield's Gabe Fouch pitched a two-hit shutout over McClain in Greenfield on Monday, May 6. (HCP Photos/Jim Jones)
Jim Jones, The Highland County Press

The Fairfield Lions traveled to Greenfield on Monday night to face McClain in an always-tough county rival contest, and after seven innings were in the books, it was the visitors winning, 8-0 on Tom Hixson Field.

“I thought we hit the ball well today,” Fairfield head coach Kyle Zimmerman said after the game. “We’ve been struggling a little bit lately, but today we adjusted pretty well at the plate and hit some nice line drives and got a couple of good bunts down.”

Fairfield got a great pitching performance from Gabe Fouch, who notched the complete-game shutout, allowing just two hits — both in the third inning — while striking out 10 McClain batters and walking three.

“Every time one of our pitchers takes the mound, we have tremendous success, and today Gabe (Fouch) was no exception to that,” Zimmerman said. “He had great command of his pitches and continues to show the maturity you are looking for heading into the tournament.”

After a scoreless first inning by both teams, the Lions put together their best offensive effort in the top of the second when they scored five runs on six hits while sending 10 batters to the plate.

Cody Frost led off with a double to deep centerfield, and Wyatt Willey reached on an error. Corey Zimmerman then laid down a perfect bunt to load the bases. Nolan Campbell followed with a sacrifice fly to deep centerfield, scoring Frost. 

Zane Matthews then had an RBI single, scoring Zimmerman. Cade Miller finished off the scoring in the frame with a two-run single, making it 5-0 Lions.

McClain looked like they might have something going in the bottom of the third when after the first two batters were retired, Kaden Penwell got a solid single up the middle and Andrew Potts followed with a double, putting runners at second and third with two outs.

Jayden Allison then worked a walk to load the base, but the scoring threat ended when Fouch retired the next Tiger batter on a routine fly ball out. That proved to be the only scoring opportunity that McClain would have the rest of the ballgame.

McClain starting pitcher Cohen Six pitched very well except for that five-run second inning. He gave up just two hits over the next four innings before being lifted in the top of the seventh for reliever Benny Vangundy.

“I thought Cohen (Six) pitched really well for us today, and then Benny Vangundy came in and should have got out of the that inning with no runs scoring,” McClain assistant coach Keith Penwell said. 

The Lions scored two unearned runs in the top of the sixth with Zane Matthews collecting a double for his second hit of the ballgame and added their final run in the seventh on an RBI bloop single by Frost that scored Carson Chandler.

“Zane (Matthews), Gabe (Fouch) and Cade (Miller) who were at the top of our batting order today got on base, and the hitters behind them got key hits when we needed them,” Zimmerman said. “Everyone throughout our batting order did something at the plate to help us get this win, and if we can do that, we’re going to be pretty hard to beat.

“This was a big win, and things worked really well for us today.”

Despite the loss, Penwell still had lots of praise for his team and the Fairfield pitcher.

“Gabe (Fouch) throws really well, and today he did a good job of mixing his pitches, and I think we only had a couple of hits off of him,” Penwell said. “Our schedule hasn’t been an easy one because the FAC is really good, and our non-conference schedule is really tough.

“I’m still super proud of our kids. They played hard and were diving for balls, and I appreciate them for that.”

McClain’s game with Logan Elm on Tuesday, May 7 was postponed, but they are scheduled to play at Huntington on Wednesday, May 8, before returning home to play Portsmouth West on Friday, May 10.  

The Tigers open up tournament play on Monday, May 13 when they host Vinton County at 5 p.m.

The Lions (14-4) are scheduled to play Logan on Wednesday, May 8, weather permitting, and will play West Union at home in a makeup game May 10 for a chance at the outright SHAC Div. II title.

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