Hirsch sends WU fans home happy with 9-8 SHAC win over Fairfield –
By Mark Carpenter –
There are few things more exciting at any level of sports than the “walk off winner” and on Tuesday, April 10, Coach Joe Kramer and his West Union Dragon baseball squad experienced that excitement as they played host to the Fairfield Lions, a team that had been red-hot coming into Tuesday’s game. After falling behind 6-3 after five innings, the Dragons scored two runs in the sixth and then capped it off with a four-run bottom of the seventh, winning the conference showdown on a two-out, bases-clearing three-run double by sophomore Alex Hirsch. The thrilling 9-8 win kept the Dragons unbeaten at 4-0, all of those victories coming in Southern Hills Athletic Conference contests.
West Union starter Brandan Cornell was not as sharp as usual, though he ended up with a complete game win, and the Lions touched him up for two runs in the top of the first on a chilly, but dry afternoon at WUHS. The Dragons got one of those back in the bottom half of the frame when Cornell scored on a Jared Fenton double to center.
After Fairfield got to Cornell for two more in the top of the second, the Dragons responded with two in the bottom half, Michael Carson led off with a single and came around to score on a base hit by Hirsch, only a hint of his later heroics. Hirsch would cross the plate on a base hit by Ryan Rothwell that cut the Fairfield lead to 4-3.
Lions starter Matthew Spears then shut down the West Union offense for three innings, while his team picked up two more runs in the top of the fourth to take a 6-3 lead. The Dragons got back on the board and began the path to a comeback win with two runs in the bottom of the sixth. A base hit by Clayton Madden produced the first run, and a single by Hirsch on a 1-0 pitch brought home another as the home team pulled to within 6-5 heading to the seventh.
Fairfield extended their lead to 8-5 with a pair of runs off of Cornell in the top of the seventh, but that only set the stage for the Dragons to pull off a miracle that all teams dream of. Down by three as they came to bat, Fenton led off with a two-bagger to right and moved to third when Dylan Grooms grounded out to the pitcher. Elijah McCarty struck out, putting the Dragons down to their final out.
Carson and Brandon Blevins were both hit by pitches to load the bases and a base on balls to Madden forced home the first run of the frame and brought the sophomore Hirsch to the plate with two out and the bases juiced. Fairfield coach Jeremy McGraw made a pitching change, bringing on Austin Setty to face the West Union third baseman and Hirsch wasted no time, jumping on Setty’s first pitch and connecting on a line drive to right that scored all three base runners, with Madden racing home with the winning run that set off a celebration for the Dragons and their fans as the home team claimed their fourth win of the season against no losses.
The victorious Dragons banged out 10 hits in the win, but no bat was bigger than that of Hirsch, who went 3 for 5 and drove home five runs. Fenton added a pair of doubles and Cornell gutted his way through seven innings on the mound to pick up the win, allowing nine hits but only three earned runs.
The Dragons were back in action on Thursday, hosting the North Adams Green Devils in a county rival SHAC battle. The outcome of that game was not available before deadline.
220 200 2 —8
120 002 4 —9
Fairfield Hitting (AB-R-H-RBI): Setty 4-1-1-0, Gragg 4-1-1-1, Buddelmeyer 3-2-3-3, Dingey 3-1-0-1, Spears 3-0-1-2, Irvin 4-0-0-0, Willey 3-0-1-0, Morgan 4-1-1-1, Grooms 3-2-1-0, Team 31-8-9-8.
Extra-Base Hits: Grooms 2B
W. Union Hitting (AB-R-H-RBI): Blevins 3-1-0-0, Carson 3-2-1-0, Cornell 4-1-1-0, Fenton 4-1-2-1, D. Grooms 3-1-1-0, Hirsch 5-1-3-5, Kingsolver 0-1-0-0, Madden 3-1-1-2, McCarty 3-0-0-0, Rothwell 3-0-1-1, Team 31-9-10-9.
Extra-Base Hits: Cornell 2B. Fenton 2B (2), Hirsch 2B
Spears (L) 6.2 IP, 9 H, 8 R, 7 ER, 2 BB, 4 K, 107 pitches
Setty 0 IP, 1 H
W. Union Pitching:
Cornell (W) 7 IP, 9 H, 8 R, 3 ER, 2 BB, 5 K, 121 pitches