Falling behind batters early was something Fairmont pitcher Chaney Morgan wanted to shake off. He scored a small victory at least for Monday’s regular-season high school baseball finale at Butler.
“The past few games I haven’t been throwing first-pitch strikes,” said Chaney, who went six innings and earned the win in a crisp 2-1 defeat of the Aviators. “I came up with a plan to do that and it worked out.”
It was a showdown of two of the area’s three best Division I teams. Fairmont (17-6) drew a first-round sectional bye and will host today’s Springboro/Stebbins winner on Thursday.
Butler (21-5) is the No. 1 seed and also drew a bye. The Aviators will host today’s Piqua/Sidney winner on Thursday. Troy is seeded No. 2.
Last Friday, Butler was thumped 10-2 by visiting Moeller. Like the loss to Fairmont, those two games were scheduled by design to best prepare for the postseason. Moeller has been to the state final four seven times since 2004 and owns four state titles in that span.
Fairmont and Butler could meet again in the D-I regional final, but that would mean getting past Moeller.
Relying on a two-seam fastball “and my curveball worked when I needed it,” Morgan (6-2) struck out four and allowed just four hits.
Losing pitcher Carson Schumann (3-2) held Fairmont hitless until he allowed two runs in the fifth inning. Jake Dupler belted a run-scoring double and Alex Decker followed with a RBI triple to account for all of Fairmont’s runs.
Morgan was most clutch in the sixth, allowing just one run with runners on first and third and one out. Reliever Drew Duckro pitched the seventh inning and ended the game with a strikeout.
Morgan and Duckro are sophomores, as is standout shortstop Tommy Bell. Fairmont’s sophomore-heavy lineup is ensured its first winning season since the 2010 team was knocked out of the postseason by Moeller.
“As we’ve gained experience these last couple of years, it’s really shown in tight games,” Fairmont coach Kent Drake said. “Instead of blowing a lead in the sixth or seventh (inning) we’ve been hanging on. This was playoff atmosphere from pitch one to the last pitch of the game.”
Butler also is loaded with a young team that includes sophomore Damon Dues, coach Trent Dues’ son.
“We just couldn’t get anything going,” said Trent Dues. “We had lazy bats. Played good (defense) and we got good pitching. We’ve got to get the bats going before Thursday.”
• Waynesville (22-4, 11-1) and Monroe (15-7, 10-2) won Southwestern Buckeye League Buckeye and Southwestern Division titles.
Cincinnati Hills Christian Academy snapped Waynesville’s 10-game win streak at Saturday. The second-seeded Spartans will host the Greeneview/Stivers winner in the D-III sectional on Wednesday.
Monroe has lost twice since clinching its title with a 6-1 defeat of Bellbrook last week. The Hornets are top seeded in D-II and host the Valley View/Belmont winner Thursday. Waynesville and Monroe didn’t play in the regular season.
• Fenwick and Chaminade Julienne earned a share of the Greater Catholic League North Division title with 7-7 records and might have to make room for Alter. The Knights are 6-7 in the league but also will earn a title share if they can beat McNicholas in a crossover game next Tuesday.
• Kenton Ridge (20-3, 13-2) and Ben Logan (23-2, 15-0) clinched Central Buckeye Conference Kenton and Mad River divisional titles, respectively. Kenton Ridge took a 15-game win streak into Monday’s game against visiting Greenon. Ben Logan topped that with a 20-game win streak headed into Monday’s game at Springfield Shawnee.
• St. Henry (18-5, 8-0) clinched an outright Midwest Athletic Conference title by edging Fort Recovery 2-0 on Saturday.