FAIRBORN — The Fairborn High School Skyhawks baseball team had all kinds of reasons to just give up Tuesday’s baseball battle with rival Xenia.
Buccaneers pitcher Alex Sparks had held host Fairborn hitless through the first three innings of play.
The Xenia defense had turned two acrobatic double plays to end Skyhawks rallies in the fourth and fifth inning.
And Xenia had held the lead for nearly the entire ballgame.
With two outs in the bottom of the seventh and final inning of play, Fairborn scored four runs to claim an exciting 6-5 win over the heartbroken Bucs.
Fairborn never quit.
“No. No. That’s something that we’ve kinda preached to these kids since the beginning of the year. I think in the beginning of the season, we might’ve been more likely to lay down. Trailing by three runs in the last inning like that, we’d have kinda quit,” Fairborn coach Bronson Marlett said. “But as the season’s progressed, these guys have become more and more selfless. They’re playing for each other, and really working to pick each other up.
“I’ve played on a lot of teams, and I’ve coached a lot of teams. I couldn’t more proud of a bunch of guys than I am of these guys right now.”
Fairborn earns at least a share of the Greater Western Ohio Conference South Division title with the win. Should they defeat Piqua at home at 5 p.m. on Wednesday, May 1, or Sidney when they head north to play the Yellow Jackets at 5 p.m. on Friday, May 3, the Skyhawks will have won the South title outright.
Lose them both, combined with a Xenia win on Friday at home over Greenville, and the Bucs will claim the title.
Xenia led 5-3 and had Fairborn down to its final out, when things got weird.
The Bucs intentionally walked Fairborn cleanup hitter Kahlil Lettice with Hunter Warner already perched on second after having driven in Mark Peterangelo with a double. Senior Jacob Benge was sent in to pinch run for Lettice, and Benge advanced on Jacob Hobbs’ single into centerfield, which scored Warner. Garison Secrest hit a high fly ball that appeared likely to be the game’s final out, but the ball fell between the Xenia right fielder and the second baseman, enabling Benge to score with the tying run.
Hobbs then scampered home to score the winning run on a wild pitch.
Asked who he’d like to recognize on his team for their performance in the win, Marlett smiled and said “All of them!”
Nate Fasnacht made several critical infield stops at second base for Fairborn. Pitchers Andrew Yeary and reliever Hunter Warner limited the damage from Xenia to keep their team in the game, and Marlett credited the seniors for their leadership and ability to make key plays during the rally.
Xenia coach Barry Claus broke into a wistful smile when asked to describe the game.
“You have to get 21 outs in high school baseball to win a game,” he said. “Unfortunately, we only got 20. Hats off to Fairborn. Their kids did great, they never gave up. They continued to compete, and I thought Warner did a great job when he came in to pitch in relief.
“I thought the big turning point in the game was when we had the bases loaded and nobody out in the fourth inning, and we could only scored once after they brought Warner in. … We had them on the ropes, and just couldn’t deliver the key hit that could put them away.”
Xenia is now 18-6 overall, but lost to the Skyhawks by a 6-2 score on Monday as well. Combined with Tuesday’s loss in Fairborn, the Bucs are now 8-5 in the GWOC South. Fairborn evened its overall record to 10-10 with Tuesday’s crazy win. They’re now 9-3 in the GWOC South.