RUSHVILLE – Both Fairfield Field Union and Sheridan had plenty of opportunities to score during Thursday’s Division II Southeast sectional final, but each time, both failed to cash in.
However, in the eighth inning, the Generals got a huge break when Ross Holbrook’s harder grounder hit the third base bag, which allowed the go-ahead run to score. The Falcons threatened in the bottom of the eighth, getting the first two runners on.
After a wild pitch moved both runners into scoring position, Dylan Dupler quickly shut the door with three consecutive strikeouts to give visiting Sheridan a hard-fought 3-2, eight-inning victory.
The Generals (18-10) play at 7 p.m. Monday in a district semifinal at Ohio University. The Falcons (12-18) had reached Thursday’s game by upsetting top-seed Miami Trace.
“They took advantage of one more opportunity than we did,” Fairfield Union coach Chris Weber said. “We had our chances, that’s for sure. One ground ball that hits third base allowed them to score. But we had other opportunities in the game to make something happen, but we just didn’t that timely hit. They got one more bounce than we did.”
The Generals won their sixth consecutive game and ninth out of their last 11. Coach Doug Fisher said his team was fortunate.
“When you get in the tournament, especially after you win a game or two, every game is going to be close and you are going to be seeing good pitchers,” Fisher said. “It just comes down to executing, and I thought we executed just enough on defense.
“I don’t know how many jams we got out of, but (Fairfield Union) was the same way. Whoever lost this game was going to be kicking themselves because both teams had opportunities.”
Fairfield Union stranded 12 base runners, including the bases loaded in the second inning without scoring. The Generals left 11 on base.
The Generals took a 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning on an RBI single by Andrew Paxton, but the Generals also had a runner thrown out at home and was doubled up on a fly ball to quickly take them out of the inning.
Fairfield Union tied in the bottom of the inning, but the Falcons also had a runner called out at home on a missed squeeze bunt. They also didn’t get a bunt down on a squeeze in the fourth inning.
Sheridan took a 2-1 lead in the sixth inning when Ross Holbrook hit a solo home run. The Falcons tied it their half of the inning when Matt Smith was able to lay down a bunt on a squeeze that scored Alex Ritton, who had reached on a walk earlier in the inning.
Holbrook led of the eighth by drawing a walk and was sacrificed to second by Mike Gettings. After a groundout and another walk, Paxton’s ripped a shot down third that hit the bag.
Colton Abram started for the Generals and was relieved by Dupler in the sixth. Thomas Green pitched all eight innings for the Falcons and was the hard-luck loser.