By GREG KEIM
THE GOSHEN NEWS
Opening a big early lead and then holding off two late rallies by the Elkhart Memorial Crimson Chargers were the keys for the Fairfield Falcons to a high school baseball home victory Wednesday evening.
The Falcons scored eight runs over the first three innings before Memorial brought the tying run to the plate in the top of the seventh inning of a 9-5 Falcon win.
“We were really rolling early on getting hit after hit,” Fairfield coach Brodie Garber said. “We kept telling the kids that hitting comes and goes in high school baseball so we needed to score some more runs when we could because you never know when it might go away.”
Fairfield (2-0) returns to action on Friday by hosting the Mishawaka Marian Knights. The varsity contest follows the JV game that is slated to start at 2:30 p.m.
The Falcons sent eight batters the plate in the first inning, scoring four runs. Key hits in the frame were a run-scoring double by junior Tony Zook and an RBI single by senior Garrett Scott.
Fairfield kept the pressure on the Chargers with three more runs in the second. Scott and senior Brad Lantz both slapped run-scoring singles.
The Falcons added one more run in the third on a sacrifice fly by senior Jordan Hochstetler.
Hochstetler was the starting pitcher for the Falcons. He sailed through the first three innings, allowing singles in the first and the second. He struck out four and walked none.
Memorial got a run in the fourth as senior Trey Solomon drove home sophomore Scottie Clark with a double. The Chargers did more damage in the fifth with four runs that closed the deficit to three runs (8-5).
“Hochstetler was very good early on,” Garber said. “This early in the season about all you can expect from a guy is five innings. When he started getting into trouble he was up around 100 pitches.”
Garber pulled Hochstetler with two outs in the fifth in favor of junior Reece Miller who promptly ended the Memorial threat with the first of his five strikeouts over the 2 1/3 innings he worked.
“This was Miller’s very first varsity action,” Garber said. “He has had two very solid years on the JV. He only lost two games on the JV and had an ERA around 1.13.”
Miller showcased his mental makeup by working out of a self-created jam in the seventh. He started out by walking the first two Memorial hitters — senior Daniel Asbury and Clark — on eight pitches. Miller rallied to strikeout the next hitter and then retired junior Danden Solomon on a comebacker to the mound.
“I was impressed to see him bounce back like he did after throwing eight straight balls,” Garber said.”A lot of young pitchers would have wilted in that situation.”
Miller was not out of danger yet as he hit Trey Solomon to load the bases, but he ended the contest by inducing a grounder from junior Dallas Russell that forced Trey Solomon at second.
Fairfield had some early season jitters on defense, but overall the effort was solid highlighted by Zook’s effort behind the plate.
“This is his second year at catcher,” Garber said. “He allowed one passed ball and that may have been more of a wild pitch. Our defense begins with him.
“He likes being a catcher. In my 12 years here at Fairfield every season I’ve had a catcher the loves to be back there. Tony has the mental and physical makeup, except for the fact that he is 5-5 to be a good catcher. If I could I would give him another two or three inches of height.”
Memorial 000 140 0 — 5-6-2
Fairfield 431 001 x —9-9--3
Pitching: (Fairfield) Jordan Hochstetler (W) four strikeouts and one walk in 4 2/3 innings. Reece Miller also pitched five strikeouts and two walks in 2 1/3 innings. (Memorial) Jacob Tucker (L). Derrick Oley, Brock Herman and Brandon Kosloski also pitched.
Hitting: (Fairfield) Jordan Hochstetler two singles, two RBI, three runs; Garrett Scott two singles, two RBI; Zac Kropf two singles, two runs; Tony Zook double, RBI, two runs; Brad Lantz single, RBI. (Memorial) Trey Solomon double, single, two RBI; Daniel Asbury double, Robert Asbury RBI; Scottie Clark single, two runs.
Record: Fairfield (2-0) hosts Mishawaka Marian Friday. The JV game begins at 2:30 p.m. and will be followed by the varsity