Xenia’s resiliency eliminates Fairborn in tournament play


XENIA — Falling behind isn’t an ideal situation for most teams. Xenia showed itself to be comfortable enough with backs nearing the wall on Wednesday to keep the season going.

Scoring 10 runs in its final two innings at the plate, the Buccaneers overcame a three-run deficit to rival Fairborn at home and won the opening round game of the Division I sectional tournament.

“We know we can come back from any deficit really,” Jackson Tate said, who went 2-for-5 in the win. “It wasn’t really much of a worry even in the fifth inning when we were down. I still have confidence that our guys will hit the ball, field it clean and pitch to get us right back in and win the game.”

Xenia (12-14), co-MVL Valley winners in the regular season, won both regular season games against Fairborn (8-20) and the two home games were in similar fashion.

Fairborn grabbed leads of at least three runs in both contests. The initial meeting on May 5 saw Xenia get six consecutive hits to bring in five runs for the 9-6 victory.

Wednesday’s game had Xenia load the bases multiple times early on, but twice left them all on base.

“They didn’t panic, they didn’t push the issue and they let it come to them,” head coach Brandon Salyers said. “We just had something not go our way early in the game and ultimate it came around and did.”

Things did so Xenia left eight runners on the base paths in the first four innings and surrendered a pair of RBI singles to Garrett Shuttleworth, the second coming in the fifth for Fairborn to put the Skyhawks up 5-2.

The bottom of the order got a five-run rally started with some hard hit singles and a pair of free passes. Once again filling the bases, Nate Fellie hustled home on a wild pitch to tie the game before Evan Harbison and Adam Newell were both plunked to give the Bucs its first lead.

Tate, just looking for any sort of strike, put a cap on the big inning with a hard bouncer into left field to plate would became the winning runs.

Xenia added on in the sixth with four insurance runs, all coming with two outs, to finish off the scoring.

After Fellie went five innings in his start, Aidan Solis closed the door by having two slow starts to innings before eventually striking out the side to end the game.

“I just had to trust myself without worrying too much,” Solis said. “Even though I had a little bit of hiccups, I knew I just needed to come through.”

Solis also had three hits at the plate, while Newell drove in three runs.

Shuttleworth scored Cayden Bailey and Xavier McDougle on both of his RBI hits, while Caleb Anderson gave Fairborn the lead in the first inning after leading off the game with a triple.

The Bucs will play at Fairmont, the top-seed in the sectional, in its next game on Thursday.

Xenia battle tested itself as the season wound down with games against several other top teams in the area from different divisions. Those went better than some early season contests when they struggled to score and showed off improved resiliency from the squad, something that could come in handy against one of the top teams in the state.

“It’s definitely a big culture change from last year,” Solis said. “The influence in coaching and a little perseverance from the guys show we’ve all been out here working hard and been taught to kind of bite down and grind.”

Fairmont has not lost to a team from Ohio in nearly a month and was ranked sixth in the latest OHSBCA state top-20 poll in D-I released on Monday.

Salyers said while it’s undeniable how good of a squad the Firebirds have, he feels confidence in who will play and the team’s ability to fight through any bad situation which could come up to try and pull off the upset.

“Baseball is just a funny sport,” he said. “You’ve only got to win one game in our playoffs. It’s not a three, five or seven game series, it’s just one game. Anything can happen in baseball.”

Contact Steven Wright at 937-502-4498 and follow on Twitter @Steven_Wright_.

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