The secret recipe for the Fairfield Warriors state championship the weekend after the Independence Day holiday was chicken wings for dinner and chicken fights in the pool.
Unfortunately, that was not the recipe for success for the Fairfield all-star team later in the month when they went 0-4 in a regional tournament in Vicennes, Ind.
“Going up to the state tournament (in Warren, Ohio), these kids played exactly zero games as a team,” said head coach Andrew Meyer. “They just clicked. They got in the swimming pool and it was over after that. You’d have thought they’d known each other forever.”
Only four of the players were on the same Fairfield youth baseball team during the regular season. The other eight players were on one of the six other Fairfield 8U teams.
“It was fun playing extra games and play with another team,” said Carson Candella, 8. He didn’t want to stop playing baseball.
Izaiah Heinrich, 8, was happy to “get out of town and play.”
And they played. The four games in Warren, Ohio, weren’t even close: 16-1 and 11-3 in the first two games, 12-3 in the semifinals and 12-1 in the championship game.
When Trenton Hampton, who just turned 9, realized they were going to win the state championship, his first though was, “I’m bringing home a medal.”
Dylan Pogozalski said while it was “fun to win” and “bring home a trophy,” it was more fun to have a chance to “rub it in his uncle’s face” who he said always “wins everything.”
And having an all-star team, the coaches said they didn’t have to worry too much about defensive or hitting skills.
“It’s good to have them have a chance to play different positions,” said assistant coach Jerrod Rush.
However, the state champs could not capitalize on that championship weekend, no matter how many chicken wings they ate or chicken fights they had.
“I just think they ran into a lot of better teams,” said Meyer.
And it was hot. The temperature was 98 degrees that Saturday, July 22 — and 93 degrees at 10 a.m. — and with the heat index it felt like 108 degrees, Meyer said. The games were late and spread out, too. They just couldn’t find their rhythm, he said.
But they’re okay with what happened because they’re always next year with the 9 and under post-season all-star team. There will be a core of this year’s team playing next year, and it could be special, Meyer said, if the majority of the players “stick around for the next couple of years.”
“The plan is to keep these kids together as long as possible — not because they’re good baseball players but they’re good kids,” Meyer said.
He even said the majority of his 12-player all-star team could make up the core of the Fairfield High School baseball program in a few years.
“You may be looking at it right here,” Meyer said.
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FAIRFIELD WARRIORS 8U All Star Roster
- Connor Meyer
- Trenton Hampton
- Izaiah Heinrich
- Blake Stark
- Carson Candella
- Dylan Pogozalski
- Jachob Yauger
- Will Reed
- Emmet Sackenheim
- Brody O’Connor
- Carson Pennington
- Jonathon York
- Head coach: Andrew Meyer
- Assistant coach: Jerrod Rush
- Assistant coach: Scott Sander
- Assistant coach: Jeremy Heinrich
- Assistant coach: Craig Reed