Fairfield Ledger

Mt. Pleasant News   Wash Journal
Neighbors Growing Together | Jul 15, 2018

Trojans advance to substate final

Will play Davenport Assumption in substate final
By Andy Hallman, Ledger news editor | Jul 18, 2017
Photo by: ANDY HALLMAN/Ledger photo Kosta Papazoglou slides safely into home after Keokuk uncorked a wild pitch.

The Trojan baseball team is one game away from the state tournament.

Fairfield defeated Keokuk 9-4 at home Monday in the district final, and now looks ahead to its substate final matchup with Davenport Assumption. Assumption defeated Washington 12-0 Monday in a five-inning game in which Davenport did not allow a hit to the Demons.

Fairfield’s game against Assumption is at 7 p.m. Wednesday in Washington.


Fast start

Before the Trojans could worry about their next opponent, they had to deal with the Chiefs. Fairfield put the pressure on early with a four-run bottom of the first.

Kosta Papazoglou doubled to lead off the inning, and the next batter Hunter Hoskins was hit by a pitch. After a groundout, Cam Baumann smashed a three-run homer to right-centerfield, his second home run in as many games.

Cade Lisk singled to center but was caught stealing second later in the inning. Tristin Waugh stepped to the plate and belted a solo homer to left-centerfield, making the score 4-0 in favor of the home team.

“The pitch was a little outside and above the belt,” Waugh said. “It looked like it was traveling too low to clear the fence, and I was surprised to see it had gone over when I was rounding second.”


Keokuk threatens

The Chiefs put together a rally in the top of the second that threatened to erase the comfortable lead the Trojans had built moments before. The first two hitters of the inning reached on infield singles, and a walk to Matt Wyatt loaded the bases with no outs.

With one swing of the bat, Keokuk could have tied the game. Instead, Reade Reiter hit a hot liner to Waugh at second base. Waugh caught the ball, saw the runner from first was well off the bag, and fired to Austin Simpson to double him off.

“Keokuk started getting loud in the second. We knew something big was going to happen for us at that moment,” Waugh said. “I knew Austin was already on first base. He and I have good chemistry since we’ve been playing together for eight years. The runner looked like a young courtesy runner, and I was able to throw him out.”

The next hitter Brendin Davis grounded weakly back to Kuehl for the third out. The Trojans had escaped the jam with no damage.


Tack-on runs

Papazoglou tripled down the right field line with one out in the second. He would later score on a wild pitch.

In the third, Fairfield scores a few runs thanks to some shoddy Chief defense. Lisk singled to begin the inning, and Waugh reached second base on a dropped flyball by the left fielder.

Cole Engle hit a slow roller to the third baseman, who looked the runner back at third but then threw wild to first, allowing a run to score and Engle to move to second.

James Lyman started his at-bat 0-2 but was able to coax a walk to load the bases with no outs. At that point, Keokuk starting pitcher Jake Jones was replaced by Andrew Patterson.

Brandon Smithburg popped up for the first out. Papazoglou hit a deep flyball to centerfield just beyond the defender’s reach. Because several runners had stayed on their base anticipating a catch, all runners moved up just one base and Papazoglou had to settle for a single. The score was 7-0.

Hoskins flied out to right field. Engle came halfway home from third, but when he saw the throw was right on the money, he tried to scamper back to the base but was picked off to end the inning.

The Trojans had more base-running adventures in the fourth. Simpson led-off the inning with a single. Baumann singled past the first baseman into the right field corner. Simpson tried to go to third on the play but was thrown out. Later in the inning, Baumann was nearly picked off second, but Keokuk could not execute a run down as the throw to second was dropped and Baumann was safe.

In the fifth, the Trojans added to their lead when Papazoglou notched his third extra-base hit of the game. He hit a line drive to center field which the fielder came in on, but later had to retreat as the ball sailed over his head. Smithburg and Engle, who had reached earlier that inning, scored on the play to push the Trojans’ lead to 9-0.

With one more hit, the Trojans could have ended the game there, because they would have been leading by 10 runs after five. The next two hitters made outs, so the Chiefs lived to fight another inning.


Chiefs make some noise

After nearly losing the game in the fifth, Keokuk made the most of its added life in the sixth. The lead-off hitter grounded out to Kuehl. Dalton Boecker singled to right, and the next hitter popped up to Lyman at short. A runner on first with two outs is not usually cause for concern, but Keokuk found a way to rally and get back in the game.

Matt Wyatt singled, followed by another single from Reade Reiter to load the bases. A wild pitch allowed a run to score, making it 9-1.

Pinch-hitter Ethan Blaise hit a grounder that forced Simpson to venture far from the bag at first. He threw to Kuehl who was covering but the throw was wild, allowing two more runs to score, 9-3.

Keokuk’s crowd had awoken and was cheering on its team to keep the rally going. Tyler Prewitt was hit by a pitch. Later, what is normally a routine throw from the catcher back to the pitcher flew into center field, allowing the runner on second to move to third.

The coaches and players had a meeting on the mound to calm their nerves, but a few pitches later, Keokuk scored its fourth run on a wild pitch. Luckily, the Trojans would get a break when the batter grounded a ball to third, which Hoskins was not able to field cleanly. The runner from second tried to take third on the play, which turned into an easy tag play for Hoskins, retiring the side.

“At that point, we were starting to have some attitudes” Waugh said. “Coach [Allison] reminded us not to point fingers at each other.”

The Trojans threatened to score in the bottom of the inning when Baumann led off with a double and advanced to third on a bunt. Waugh struck out, but since the catcher dropped the ball, he ran to first. The catcher grabbed the ball but never threw to first, fearing Baumann would score from third.

Baumann tried to score on a groundout to second, but the first baseman threw home. For several seconds, the umpire did not make a signal, until Baumann was in the dugout, whereupon he called him out. The umpire ruled the catcher did not tag Baumann with the ball, but also that Baumann had missed the plate.


Final out

Keokuk put a few runners on in the top of the seventh. The game came to an end when Wyatt popped up to Waugh at second base.

“When the ball went in the air, I was just thinking about how we needed to end the game as soon as possible because we had a rough sixth inning,” Waugh said.

Kuehl pitched all seven innings, allowing four runs, only one earned, on six hits, one walk and four strikeouts.

“My curveball started off bad. It felt good in the middle innings, but then I lost it again near the end,” Kuehl said.

Kuehl said Keokuk has improved a lot since last year, and has some pop in its lineup.

“They hit a few homers against Mt. Pleasant,” he said. “They have guys at the top of the order that you have to throw off-speed to, especially in 0-2 counts. They can hit the fastball, so you have to throw them as many breaking balls as possible.”

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