Goshen News, Goshen, IN

Sports

April 27, 2012

PREP BASEBALL: Falcons fall in NECC semi to Cougars

ALBION — The Fairfield Falcons scored early, just not often enough in a 4-2 loss in the semifinals of the NECC high school baseball tournament Friday night at Central Noble.

Fairfield scored two runs in the top of the first inning, but that was all they could muster against Central Noble’s senior pitcher Brice Vance.

“Vance did a nice job over the last four innings,” Falcon coach Brodie Garber said. “He pitched ahead in the count. It seemed like every time I looked up at the scoreboard it was 0-2 or 1-2 on our hitter. It’s easier to pitch in that situation than it is to hit. You have to give Vance credit for the way he settled down. He didn’t start the game out like that.”

Over the fourth, fifth and sixth innings, Vance struck out seven of the nine Falcon batters he faced. He ended the game with 10 punchouts.

“Brice got better as the game went on,” Central Noble coach Jim Sickafoose said. “He mixes a fastball, curve and change up to keep hitters off-balance. He stayed ahead in the count and got stronger as the game went on.”

Things looked good for the Falcons after one-half inning.

Junior Jordan Hochstetler singled to begin things for Fairfield. He advanced to second on a throwing error before scoring on a single by senior Brad Newcomer. Brad Newcomer stole second and made it to third on another throwing error and scored on a single by senior Zach Newcomer.

The good feelings didn’t last long as the Central Noble Cougars scored twice in the bottom half of the frame. Senior Austin Pulver walked and scored on a single by classmate Nick McCoy. In between Pulver and McCoy, senior Ryan Kumfer had singled. He scored on a delayed double steal.

Fairfield tried to get started with two outs in the second as sophomore Tony Zook and Hochstetler singled only to have Vance fan the next hitter.

The Falcons tried again in the third when Brad Newcomer walked and moved to third on a single by Zach Newcomer. The next hitter senior Riley Miller walked to load the bases. Vance fanned the next batter and followed with an inning-ending double play on a grounder to the second baseman.

“We had the bases loaded with no outs and didn’t score,” Garber said. “The was the key to the game. It took away whatever momentum we might have had.”

Central Noble left the bases loaded in the second, third and fifth innings.

The Cougars’ other two runs came in the third. Key hits were an RBI single by senior Lance Conrad and a run-scoring sacrifice bunt by senior Alx Whitlock.

Junior starter Garrett Scott pitched into the fifth inning for Fairfield, striking out two and walking five.

Hochstetler came in with one out and Cougar runners on first and second. Pulver reached on an error to load the bases. Hochstetler pitched out of the jam by striking out Kumper and retiring McCoy on a comebacker to the mound.

“Hochstetler came in and gave us a nice two innings,” Garber said.

Hochstetler and Zach Newcomer both singled twice for the Falcons.

Central Noble had 12 base hits, led by junior Kevin Kennedy with three singles.

“Out hitting has really been improving this week in the tournament,” Sickafoose said.

“I’m really pleased with the improvement.”

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