Trojans hold off Van Buren for first win
All the Fairfield baseball team needed was one big inning to get past non-conference foe Van Buren Monday.
Its pitching took care of the rest.
The Trojans scored all five of their runs in the first inning, starter Ryan Gaumer gave up three runs in 3 2/3 innings, and junior Joe Hietpas was unhittable in three-plus innings of relief to preserve a 5-3 victory at Trojan Field in Fairfield.
The win was the first of the weather-delayed season for Fairfield (1-2), which hadn’t played since it hosted Ottumwa May 24.
The Trojans, remarkably, showed no signs of rust out of the gates.
Hietpas and Josh Dimmitt opened the first-inning onslaught with a single and a base on balls, respectively. Austin Gridley drew a walk to load the bases, and Mason Ellis banged out a single to bring home Hietpas and Jordan Whitney, who was courtesy running for Dimmitt. Tyler Cooksey then followed up Ellis’ huge hit with an even bigger smack, blasting a three-run homer over the right field fence to hand the Trojans an early 5-0 lead.
“Mason and Tyler both had key hits to get us on the scoreboard early,” said Fairfield head coach Josh Allison. “Offensively, early on we were taking great at-bats and hitting the ball hard even on the outs.”
Kooper Dahlstrom also had a base knock following Cooksey’s blast, but Van Buren freshman pitcher Tyson Sprouse got a strikeout and a groundout to limit the damage to five runs in the frame.
After the disastrous first inning for Van Buren (2-2, 2-0 SEISC South), the visitors made their rival from the north work for the win. In fact, behind Sprouse and reliever Thomas Fitzsimmons, Van Buren held Fairfield hitless the rest of the way.
But with Gaumer and Hietpas toeing the rubber, the Trojans didn’t need any.
Van Buren was held to three hits vs. the two Trojan pitchers, scoring once in the second inning to cut the lead to 5-1 and plating two final runs in the top of the fourth. Gaumer allowed all three runs in 3 2/3 innings to earn the win. Hietpas pitched the final 3 1/3 for Fairfield, allowing no hits and two walks with seven punchouts, to earn the elongated save.
“Tonight was really highlighted by the pitchers. Joe did a nice job of coming in and shutting the door. Ryan struggled to find his consistency, which was opposite the last time out,” said Allison.
Aside from the first inning, Van Buren’s pitchers were just as dominant, turning what looked to be a high-scoring affair early into a pitcher’s duel late.
“Both the Van Buren pitchers threw it really well. They located their fastball, and Tyson kept us off-balance with his off-speed pitches,” said Allison. “We lost our confidence and stopped trusting the instincts.”
Starting his first game ever, Sprouse struck out seven, and between the first and fifth innings retired 12 straight Trojans. Fitzsimmons entered the game in the fifth inning and fanned three of the final four batters he faced.
Van Buren head coach Chad Scott said he was proud of the way Sprouse finished up his first ever start.
“For a freshman to come into a 3A school, I think he might have been a little nervous. He left the ball up there a little bit and it’s one thing to quit, but he didn’t do that. He got better,” said Scott. “And that’s what we’re shooting for. We’re trying to make these players better baseball players every day, and I think we walk out of here a better baseball team.”
In addition to Sprouse, the young Warriors are currently starting three other freshmen: Austin Bartholomew, Will Mertens and Robert Barker.
“We’re starting four freshmen, and I feel confident putting them out there in any situation,” said Scott, who added his entire team’s focus was good Monday despite practicing once in the past 10 days. “I thought we had good at-bats, our pitchers threw well and defensively we looked good.”
A bases-loaded walk from sophomore Brandon Plecker scored Mertens in the second inning. The visitors then scored twice more in the fourth off Gaumer, as Plecker smacked a two-run double to score Barker and junior Tanner Smith. Plecker, who finished the game 1-for-2 from the plate, had all three RBI for the Warriors.
Van Buren returns to conference play today at Holy Trinity. Fairfield’s next stop, meanwhile, is at Centerville on Wednesday. They then open conference play at home Thursday vs. Keokuk.
Van Buren @ Fairfield
Van Buren – 0 1 0 2 0 0 0 — 3 3 0
Fairfield – 5 0 0 0 0 0 x — 5 4 0
FAIRFIELD — Cooksey 1-3, HR, 3RBI, R; Dahlstrom 1-3; Ellis 1-3, 2RBI, R; Hietpas 1-2, R; Whitney R; Gridley R
Pitching — Gaumer (W, 1-0) 3 2/3 INN, 3H, 3R, 3ER, 4K, 4BB; Hietpas (S) 3 1/3 INN, 0H, 0R, 7K, 2BB
VAN BUREN — Plecker 1-2, 2B, 3RBI; Mertens 1-3, R; Barker 1-1, R; T. Smith R
Pitching — Sprouse (L, 0-1) 4 2/3 INN, 4H, 5R, 5ER, 7K, 4BB; Fitzsimmons 1 1/3 INN, 0H, 0R, 3K, 0BB
Fairfield JV also wins
Three Trojan pitchers combined to allow three hits and the Fairfield JV baseball team crushed Van Buren 9-1 Monday at Trojan Field.
Fairfield starter Chet Vogt pitched two innings and gave up the one run to earn the win. Vogt allowed two hits and walked two, but he also fanned a pair of batters. Jordan Whitney allowed one hit and one walk in two innings of relief, and eighth-grader Cam Baumann struck out two in one final inning.
At the plate, Whitney was 3-for-3 with three runs batted in, and Baumann went 2-for-2 with a triple and one RBI. Anagnostis Papazoglou legged out a double, and Vogt and Alex Christensen hit one single each. Jordan Reid and Justin Leonard finished with one RBI apiece.