KERSHAW — The Fairfield Central baseball team earned one-run victory on the road Thursday night when they defeated North Central 6-5.
After falling behind early, the Griffins were able to erase a two-run deficit and get a much needed win in region play.
Fairfield Central head coach Scotty Dean was pleased with his team’s tenacity after spotting the Knights a 2-0 advantage.
“After falling behind 2-0 in that first inning, I called timeout and told our guys to calm down,” Dean said. “I told them that if they didn’t give up another run and leave the deficit at just two, we would end up winning the game.”
Not only did the Griffins win the game, but they also conquered their demon of falling behind early and picked up the elusive win on the road over a region III-AA top contender.
“It was one of our better games and we played really well,” Dean noted. “I really did feel like if we could stop that bleeding we would come out on top. All it took is for our team to get one big win on the road and I think it showed what our baseball team can do. They played hard and fought and believed in what I was telling them.”
In the bottom of the first inning, Fairfield Central’s starter Stanley McManus gave up two runs after hitting one batter, giving up two hits and one defensive error.
The Griffin defense committed four errors in the game and despite giving up the early lead, McManus was able to settle in and earn the win.
He threw 125 pitches in seven innings of work and allowed five runs on five hits and struck out seven.
Even though McManus threw 125 pitches, Dean felt good about his freshman pitcher.
“That first inning usually presents a problem for us, but he (McManus) has a strong arm and tends to get stronger as the game goes on,” Dean noted.
In the top of second inning, Chris Boyd scored on an error and Byron Sampson (courtesy running for McManus) stole home.
Sampson’s rare play of stealing home made the score 2-2 and fired up the Griffin squad.
“That (stealing home) was a big deal right there,” Dean stated. “And it was a perfect situation where he (Sampson) just beat the pitch home.”
Taking advantage of the pitcher’s slow windup, Sampson began to walk towards home and after the pitch went high and out of the strike zone, he was able slide into home headfirst and underneath the catchers’s tag.
Dean said he decided to make the call after the situation presented itself and really felt the momentum swing back into his team’s favor.
“Once we made that play, our guys felt good and were excited,” he stated. “When our guys play hard and with emotion, we usually do pretty good.”
Each team scored a run in the third inning and in the fourth inning, the Knights went back on top 4-3.
In top of fifth and down one run, the Griffins broke the game open and made their move by scoring three runs.
With the bases loaded and no outs, Jarvis Kennedy lined a two-run single up the middle to plate both Tavaris Cook and Javaris Cook.
Dean feels good with Kennedy hitting as the cleanup batter.
“Jarvis (Kennedy) can really hit and I feel fine with him in the four-hole,” he stated. “Jarvis has been hitting the ball all year and we had to find a way to get him at the plate with people on base.”
Compton Walker scored in the inning as well to put Fairfield up 6-4.
In the bottom of fifth, McManus walked the first hitter and then retired the next three hitters in a row to work around the lead-off walk.
“That was huge for us and allowed us to maintain momentum and the lead late in the ball game,” Dean noted.
In bottom of the sixth, North Central would threaten again with a two-out solo shot by Tyler Bowers to make the score 6-5.
Although the Griffins did not score any insurance runs in the top of the seventh, Dean felt confident heading into the bottom half of the inning and clinging to a one-run advantage.
“Once we got through that top part of the lineup, I felt pretty good about it,”he said. “I considered going to a relief pitcher but decided to stay with Monk (McManus) because we were still up by a run. We decided as a coaching staff to just stay with him and he pulled it out.”
Despite hitting the lead-off batter with a two-strike pitch, McManus settled down and retired the next three hitters in a row including two strikeouts to end the game.
The Griffins will try to win their straight region game tonight (April 1) when they host Columbia.
Dean said that Walker would get the starting nod against the Capitals.
Fairfield lost to Columbia 6-4 back on March 14, but Dean believes his Griffins have more momentum this time around.
“I think it’ll be different this time,” he said. “I’m hoping that win (over North Central) did something for us and I truly believe that if our guys play together and try to win every pitch and every inning we’ll be satisfied with the result.”
First pitch at Fairfield Central is slated for 6 p.m.
FC 0-2-1-0-3-0-0 — 6-5-4
NC 2-0-1-1-0-1-0 — 5-5-2