Fairfield Ledger
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Mt. Pleasant News   Wash Journal
Neighbors Growing Together | Jul 22, 2017

No contest: Trojans steamroll Bloodhounds

By Andy Hallman, Ledger news editor | Jul 17, 2017
Photo by: ANDY HALLMAN Cade Lisk allowed one run in three innings to earn the victory Friday night.

Fairfield’s state-qualifying victory Tuesday in softball was one of the most dramatic games of the year.

Three days later, the baseball team had its first taste of the playoffs as it battled Fort Madison in the opening round. The only drama in that contest was guessing how many balls the Trojans would hit off (or over) the fence.

As it had all four times during the regular season, Fairfield defeated Fort Madison by mercy rule in the fourth inning when Cam Baumann’s RBI single pushed the Trojans’ lead to 16-1.

It was a fitting end to the contest because Baumann had already tattooed two baseballs in his earlier at-bats. For at-bat No. 1, the senior crushed a line-drive that cleared the fence in right for a solo home run.

In at-bat No. 2, Baumann nearly repeated the feat. This time, his screaming liner bounced off the wall in right, allowing him to motor around the bases for a triple.

“I didn’t quite square that second one up like I did the first one,” Baumann said.

Baumann keeps close tabs on how the opposing pitcher is trying to get him out so he can make adjustments at the plate.

“The home run I hit was on a low and inside fastball. The hit that went for a triple was on a high curveball,” he said. “The RBI single at the end was on a fastball away.”

 

Fort Madison’s glimmer of hope

The Bloodhounds came into the game a huge underdog with a record of 1-31 compared to the Trojans’ impressive mark of 24-11. Fort Madison had never been within 10 runs of Fairfield all year.

The entourage of fans who made the trip from the Mississippi River town knew their chances were slim, but a turn of events in the top of the second gave them momentary hope. Fairfield pitcher Cade Lisk had not yet found his groove and was struggling to throw strikes. The Bloodhounds were more than happy to rest the bat on their shoulders.

They managed to walk four times in the inning, including one with the bases loaded to force in a run, cutting their deficit to 2-1.

 

Trojans take control

At that point, Lisk found his command and proceeded to strike out Ryan Steffensmeier and Aaron Steffensmeier to end the inning and the threat.

By the third, Lisk was in prime form. He struck out the lead-off batter, induced a flyout to right, and retired the final hitter on a nifty curveball that buckled his knees. “Strike three!” yelled the umpire.

Jimmy Kurka came on in relief and picked up where Lisk left off. He struck out Brandon Reichelt to begin the frame, got Brady Reynolds to fly harmlessly to Baumann in center field and induced Carlos Gonzales to pop up to the second baseman, Tristin Waugh. It was the last pitch Kurka or any Trojan would need to throw that night.

 

Second-inning onslaught

The Trojan offense got things going in the first when Caden Jones scored from third on a sac fly by Austin Simpson, which was followed by Baumann’s homer to put the Trojans up 2-0. They really put the hurt on Fort Madison in the second inning when eight batters in a row reached base.

Cole Engle led off the inning by reaching on an infield hit, and advanced to second on a bunt. Smithburg stepped to the plate and tried to check his swing on a pitch, but the ball hit his bat and rolled toward shortstop. The shortstop had too much ground to cover and could not throw out Smithburg at first.

Next up was Papazoglou, who fouled off one pitch after another in what had to be the longest at-bat of the game. Bloodhound pitcher Ryan Steffensmeier thought he had put the Fairfield catcher away for good when he induced Papazoglou to hit a flyball to left field. But it was Kosta who had the last laugh as the fielder dropped the ball, allowing Engle to touch home.

Hoskins followed with an RBI single up the middle to push the score to 4-1. Simpson roped a double into the right field corner to score two more, but the Trojans weren’t done yet. They were just getting warmed up.

Baumann smacked a triple off the fence in right to score Simpson. Lisk got good wood on a ball and sent it into right center for an RBI single as Fairfield’s lead ballooned to 8-1.

Fort Madison changed pitchers, subbing in freshman Brandon Reichelt. Reichelt could not find the zone nor the catcher’s mit as he threw three wild pitches in the inning, including one that allowed courtesy runner Brittan Bowman to score.

Smithburg’s sac fly later in the inning was just the second out and the eighth run Fairfield had scored in the inning as the score stood at 10-1.

 

Putting the game away

The Trojans didn’t score in the third, but it was merely a temporary reprieve for the Bloodhounds as Fairfield went back to work in the fourth. Lisk led off the inning and was hit by a pitch for the second time. Waugh walked, and Engle reached on a single that skirted past the shortstop.

The Trojans then played pepper off the outfield wall. With the bases loaded, James Lyman smoked a ball into the left-center field gap to plate two runs. Smithburg stepped up and delivered a two-run triple to the same exact spot.

“Off the bat, I knew it was headed for the gap,” Smithburg said. “As I was rounding second, I saw the fielder was just getting to the ball, so I knew I could squeeze out a triple.”

Papazoglou followed with a sacrifice fly to give Fairfield a 15-1 lead.

It was no longer a question of if but when the Trojans would win. Hoskins walked, and Simpson hit what looked like a towering two-run homer to center. Somehow the park held it, and Simpson had to settle for a long single. Baumann’s RBI single to right gave the Trojans a 15-run lead, ending the contest.

 

Base running

Smithburg said after the game that hitting the bases hard has been the team’s focal point.

“We may not be the fastest team, but we try to be the most aggressive,” he said. “Being aggressive puts pressure on the pitcher and the defense. Coach Allison always tells us, ‘You never look stupid when you run it out.’”

Allison said he was pleased that so many guys contributed to the win.

“It was a good team win with lots of guys doing the little things like sac bunts, sac flies, or whatever was needed to help the team win,” he said. “It’s a lot of fun when we play that kind of baseball.”

 

Bracket watching

The Trojans were probably expecting to meet Mt. Pleasant in the next round, but the Panthers were upset in their game Friday against Keokuk. Keokuk came in 14-23 while Mt. Pleasant was 25-13, having snatched the conference title away from Fairfield the prior week. Friday’s game in Fairfield was a back-and-forth affair, but in the end the Chiefs prevailed 7-6.

That prompts a match up between Fairfield and Keokuk at 7 p.m. tonight in the District 10 final. If the Trojans win tonight, they will play the winner of the District 9 final between Washington and Davenport Assumption, also being played tonight.

The substate final will be at 7 p.m. Wednesday in Washington, with a trip to the state tournament riding on the line.

 

 

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