LANCASTER – Fisher Catholic’s Jared Faulkner wasn’t pleased that he gave up two runs to let Fairbanks tie the score in the fifth inning, but the junior more than made up for it with a clutch, two-out hit that gave the Irish the spark they needed.
In the bottom half of the fifth inning, Faulkner’s two-out base hit knocked in a run that gave Fisher Catholic the lead for good. The Irish would had two more runs in the inning en route to a 5-2 Division IV tournament win over the visiting Panthers.
The Irish (18-10) now move on to the district semifinals at 5 p.m. Monday at Bloom-Carroll. They will face Danville or Ridgedale.
“I felt bad giving up those two runs, so I knew I needed to go up there and make something happen and do the best I could,” said Faulkner, who went 3-for-3 and scored two runs. “It was huge at that point, and that has been the story of this team all year. We never quit, and everyone on this team plays as hard as they can to the very end.”
David Hoffman started fifth inning off by drawing a walk, and after Adam Smith bunted him over to second, it looked as if Hoffman might be stranded at second after a fly out. However, Faulkner delivered a sharp single to right-center field.
“We have been preaching all year that we have to answer when things aren’t going your way,” Fisher catholic coach Jack Faulkner said. “All of our guys know what our approach with two strikes is, and (Jared) has done an excellent job of shortening up his swing in that situation.
“I think he was surprised he got a fastball because he had been fighting off the curveball. But he was glad to see it, and he got a good swing on it.”
Jared Faulkner went to second on the throw home to try and get Hoffman out, and the next batter, Zach Saffell, then delivered a base hit to score Jared Faulkner. Zach Saffell moved to second on a wild pitch, and his brother, Blake Saffell, kept it going with another RBI single.
The Irish took a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning when Jared Faulkner had a one-out single and would eventually score on Tom Sylvester’s RBI single. Blake Saffell, who had reached on an error, also scored on the play because of a throwing error.
“Being the home team, you have to make it worth something, and you have to jump on them early” Jack Faulkner said. “Getting an early lead is always huge.”
Jared Faulkner pitched solid through four-plus innings. He was able to get out of a jam in the second, leaving two runners in scoring position. After easy third and fourth innings, the Panthers finally got to him.
A bloop single that fell behind second base started the inning off. Another hit, a couple of wild pitches and an error enabled Fairbanks to plate two runs to tie it at 2-2.
“We kind of let them back in it when let that ball dropped and that got them started,” Jack Faulkner said. “But our kids answered and did a great job of fighting back. They have grown up a lot this season.”