Lefty trio leads Fort Frye to victory

BEVERLY — Fort Frye High threw three southpaws in its 8-5 come-from-behind triumph over visiting West Muskingum High in a sectional baseball opener Saturday afternoon.

And, if that’s what it takes to win, Cadet skipper Sonny Bidwell will do it again when third-seeded Fort (15-4) hosts fifth-seeded Ridegwood in an Ohio Division III sectional final at 5 p.m. Tuesday.

“They’re all capable of coming back then,” Bidwell said. “We’ll take a good look at it and make an evaluation Sunday night and Monday morning.”

Toeing the rubber versus Ridgewood will be either Tyler Bradford, Luke Nelson, or Devin Layton.

My guess is that Bradford, an All-Ohioan last season as a junior, will get the starting nod – but you never know.

That Fort Frye has three starting lefties in its pitching rotation is a little unusual at the prep level.

“It’s kind of a benefit having them on the team,” said Cadet senior catcher Logan Isner. “I think we only have one righty (in the rotation).”

On the roster, Derek Joy, Brenden Huck, Eric Isner, and Ben Wagner are listed as right-handed throwers. And, Wagner is out because of an injury.

Also listed is the left-handed-throwing Hunter Stoffel.

That Bradford, Nelson, and Layton all hurled in the same game…well, that was a first this spring.

“I don’t think we’ve ever thrown three lefties in a game,” Bidwell said. “Down at Parkersburg South, Luke and Tyler threw – but not Devin.”

Against 15th-seeded West M, Nelson started and was very effective, throwing four scoreless innings. He only gave up one hit and was helped by a nice running catch in center field by Cody Sparks, who by the way is left-handed.

When Nelson was relieved by Layton in the top of the fifth, Fort Frye owned a 4-0 advantage. When that inning was over, the Tornadoes benefited from a Cadet error, and reduced the deficit to one, 4-3.

Bradford was brought in to pitch the final two innings with the idea of closing out the game and getting a save. But once again, an error proved to be costly, and West M tied and then took its first lead of the contest, 5-4.

“We made it interesting,” Bidwell said. Fortunately for the Cadets, they regained the advantage when they rallied to scored four runs in the bottom half of the frame, roughing up two Tornado hurlers (one a lefty).

“It was kind of hard with the switching of pitchers (by West M), but once we got on one, we started hitting very well,” said Isner, who drove in the go-ahead run with a sac fly to left.

In the top of the seventh, Bradford, the pitcher of record now, fanned the first two Tornadoes he faced and then hit a batter.

No problem, because the all-stater then picked him off. Game over.

“Tyler Bradford did a nice job on the mound at the end,” Bidwell said.

Actually, all three of Fort’s southpaws did a nice job as all of West Muskingum’s runs were unearned.

Ron Johnston is a Marietta Times sports writer, and can be reached at rjohnston@mariettatimes.com