VINCENT – Things looked pretty bleak for Fort Frye after Warren’s Jake Davis slugged a three-run, go-ahead homer in the bottom of the sixth inning.
But the Cadets had the perfect response in the top half of the next frame: a bat-around.
The Fort rallied for eight runs in the top of the seventh to defeat the host Warriors, 16-9, in Ohio Valley Athletic Conference baseball action Friday.
“It was an amazing game,” said FFHS skipper Sonny Bidwell, who earlier in the week notched his 300th career baseball victory. “We used pretty much the entire bench in different situations, and the guys’ bats came alive there at the end.
“Both teams played hard with their hearts, back and forth all the time. I was proud of our kids for battling. Twice, we looked pretty defeated, and we got back up after knockout punches.”
Fort Frye (4-2) rapped out 12 base hits, and benefitted from 11 walks, two Warrior errors and one hit batsman.
Derek Layton, Logan Isner, Garrett Lochary, Issac Klinger and Luke Nelson each had two hits for the winners and combined to drive in all 15 of its team’s runs.
“They kept their eye on the ball and swung at strikes,” Bidwell said. “And, that made them effective. A lot of those kids had big hits.”
Pitching-wise, reliever Ben Wagner was credited with the mound victory. But relievers Carter Lang and Tyler Bradford were also solid.
“They kept us in the ballgame,” said Bidwell of his pitching.
Davis, who is Heidelberg University-bound after graduation, had a home run and three RBIs. Tanner Proctor was 3 for 4 with two RBIs and Tanner Neal also had two base-knocks.
“You’ve got to throw strikes and play defense if you’re going to win baseball games,” said Warren boss Ryan Lemley. “We didn’t do that against a good team and got beat. That’s all there is to it.”
Fort staked itself to a 1-0 advantage in the top of the first when Layton doubled home Tate Engle.
But Warren (2-3) came right back with four runs in the bottom half of the frame with Proctor, Chase Wiehl and Neal each driving in a run. Another Warrior run scored on a Cadet throwing error.
The Warriors stretched their lead to 6-1 in the second inning on a double steal of second and home, and a run-scoring single by Proctor.
In the third, Fort reduced the deficit to one, thanks to Ben Wagner’s two-run single and an RBI hit by Isner. Another Cadet run scored on a Wiehl wild pitch.
Fort Frye regained the lead in the top of the fifth, 8-6, with all three of its runs forced in on bases-loaded walks. Nelson, Klinger and Layton each was credited with an RBI. Lochary had the only Cadet hit during the bat-around.
In the bottom of the sixth, Warren’s Drew Huffman reached base on a Cadet throwing error. After Bryce Gandee walked, Trace Shafer attempted a sacrifice bunt, but Huffman was thrown out at third.
Stepping into the batter’s box, Davis worked the count to 3-2 before launching a long drive that cleared the fence in left, making it 9-8 Warriors.
But once again, the Fort came back in the top of the seventh with an eight-run explosion. During their second bat-around of the contest, the Cadets benefitted from three walks, a hit batsman, a Lochary bases-loaded triple and a run-scoring double by Klinger. Isner and Nelson also singled home a run.
Sealing the victory for Fort in the bottom of the seventh, lefty Tyler Bradford – who earlier in the week pitched a no-hitter against Shenandoah – fanned two Warriors.
Fort Frye is scheduled to play host to Martins Ferry in a doubleheader at 1 p.m. today, while Warren will be doing the same at the same time against Athens High.
“In baseball, you don’t have time to lick your wounds,” Lemley said. “And, that’s the good thing about it. We get to go right back out there tomorrow (Saturday) and try to be better.”