Bucs push top seed to brink in extra innings defeat


KETTERING — One year ago Xenia baseball got itself to the same round of the Division I sectional tournament but was blown out against a No. 1 seed.

Back in the same scenario, the Bucs this time gave their opponent a mighty scare.

Xenia took the game to extra innings on the road, but Fairmont got three straight to reach base in the eighth and plated the winning run in a 3-2 victory on Thursday.

“We gave them all they wanted and earned their respect today,” head coach Brandon Salyers said. “I told them all it’s a lot better feeling than Centerville last year and we earned a lot of teams respect tonight when they look at the scoreboard.”

Xenia had a chance to take the lead in the top of the seventh after sacrificing runners to second and third with one out. Stevie Doty, the GWOC leader in strikeouts was able to get one on Evan Harbison before Nate Fellie flied out to right to end the inning.

Ethan Williamson replaced starter Ethan Wells and got the game to extras where the Bucs again got a runner into scoring position but hit a ground ball to third to leave him on base.

A leadoff walk in the bottom of the eighth lead to a sacrifice bunt attempt down the first base line which no one could reach. Another sac attempt ensued toward third, but the throw to first was wide and went down the line to allow the runner from second to score the game ending run.

Fairmont got the scoring started in the second after getting two runners on with a soft line drive to right field. After the next batter was hit, a soft roller against the drawn in infield was mishandled to make the score 2-0.

Wells struck out the side to open the game and only allowed one runner in the third and stranded two in the fourth to keep the score close on his way to an eight strikeout performance.

“He saved his best for last,” Brandon Salyers said. “Just a bulldog mentality as he wanted the ball in his hands.”

Zach Salyers got things started in the fifth with a single and Aidan Solis beat a bunt. Cayden Smith was hit with two outs, lettingHarbison swing the bat. He hit a hard grounder toward right field that the second baseman couldn’t handle to tie the game. Xenia reloaded the bases afterward but were unable to take the lead.

The game was another push forward for the program, finishing with a 12-15 overall record and was playing at its best and pushing several top teams as the season ended.

“I’ve coached a lot of those kids since they’ve been five and six years old and they’re always gonna have a special place in my heart,” Brandon Salyers said. “And saying goodbye to them like that, it’s tough because you would have liked to have one more game.”

And while it’s always tough to finish a season, this year was more difficult for Brandon after getting to spend two years in the dugout alongside his graduating son.

“I don’t give him enough credit because he’s the coach’s kid, but damn anybody would love to have him on their team,” Brandon said of Zach. “That’s about as impartial as I can make it. One of the most important games of his high school career and he came out and got two knocks. I’m super proud of him.”

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

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