BY MIKE URSERY
The Fayette Falcons (4-9) ended their regular season with an 11-7 loss to the Pilot Grove Tigers (8-5) at Estes Field on May 9.
The theme of the game was Senior Night. Six seniors were recognized on the field after the game had ended: Hunter Heath, Babrack Roberts, Robby Robinson, Mason Stornello, Aaron Wilder and manager Maddi Duren.
“A lot of them played four years for this program,” head coach Garth Menees said. “They’re my first four-year guys, so that’s kind of a special thing for me. They put in the work every day, and they’ve gotten a lot better. They’ve come a long way.”
Fayette put together a rally in the final inning. Trailing 11-3, the Falcons scored four runs in the bottom of the seventh inning. The runs were scored on three straight hits.
This happened one inning after Pilot Grove pulled off a rarity in the game of baseball – completing a triple play, which happened with the bases loaded.
“That just says we never give up,” Menees said. “That’s what I always tell them. It’s not over until it’s over, and we showed that tonight.”
Robinson made the start on the mound. He pitched three innings, allowing two runs on five hits.
Menees said Robinson only pitched three innings because Menees wants him to be available to pitch against New Bloomfield on May 13.
Pilot Grove hit RBI-singles in the first and third inning to go ahead 2-0.
Fayette cut the lead in half in the bottom of the fourth inning when Stornello scored on a wild pitch. They tying run was at third base with one out, but Pilot Grove pitcher Austin Hammond consecutive fly outs to get out of the inning with a 2-1 lead.
Pilot Grove scored five runs in the top of the fifth inning. Sophomore Laben Twenter hit an RBI-double that drove in two runs, making the score 4-1.
Junior Donnavan Gerke drove in a run on a fielder’s choice. Senior Jared Schupp hit an RBI-single, and later scored on a throwing error by Fayette junior catcher Joe Geha. Pilot Grove led 7-1.
Stornello drove in two runs with an RBI-double in the bottom of the fifth. He sent an 0-1 pitch into the gap in right-centerfield, allowing Robinson and sophomore Ross Hudson to score. Fayette trailed 7-3.
Pilot Grove junior Austin Kollmeyer led off the top of the sixth inning with a solo home run. He sent a 2-2 pitch from Stornello over the wall in left field to make the score 8-3.
The Tigers scored three more runs to extend their lead to 11-3.
Wilder led off the bottom of the sixth. He reached first base on a throwing error. Sophomore Cameron Stornello followed with a single, and Heath added a single to load the bases with no outs.
The batter was Hudson. He hit a low line drive into right field. The right fielder made a shoestring catch. He threw the ball to third base for an out. Stornello was thrown out before he could get back to second base. The Tigers completed a triple play to end the potential scoring threat.
“Everyone thought it was down,” Menees said about Hudson’s line drive that was caught. “I wasn’t 100 percent sure, but it didn’t get down. It’s just one of those things. Unfortunately, it happened in a key situation with no outs and the bases loaded.”
The Falcons tried to rally back in the bottom of the seventh. With runners at second and third and one out, freshman Jack Kindle hit an RBI-single that drove in a run.
Freshman Quess Frerking followed with an RBI-double to left-center that drove in two more runs.
Wilder was next. He hit an RBI-single that drove in Frerking to make the score 11-7.
Pilot Grove made a pitching change with two outs. Kollmeyer came on in relief. He needed one pitch to get Hudson to ground out, ending the game.
The Falcons are the No. 6 seed in the Class 2 District 7 tournament. The tournament will be held at Harrisburg, May 13-17.
Fayette will play New Bloomfield in the opening round.
“They play some really good competition, especially early in the year,” Menees said about New Bloomfield. “They’re gonna be ready to go. I’ve played them in the past. We used to be in a district with them a long time ago when I was an assistant coach, so I know they have a reputation of being a good ball club. We’re gonna have to come out and handle business and do the very best we can.”
The game is scheduled to begin on May 13 at noon.