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Falcon’s season ends in district semis to Harrisburg

Brian Spielbauer
Posted 5/11/24

The Fayette baseball team rolled into Friday night’s district semifinal game against Harrisburg, coming off an 18-run performance the night before and winning eight of their last 14 games. But …

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Falcon’s season ends in district semis to Harrisburg


The Fayette baseball team rolled into Friday night’s district semifinal game against Harrisburg, coming off an 18-run performance the night before and winning eight of their last 14 games. But that momentum wasn’t enough as their season came to a close with a 7-4 loss in the second round of Class 2 District 7 action.

It’s the second year in a row for a budding Falcon program under head coach Andy Oeth to make the district semifinals. The young Falcon nine finishes the season 8-15 overall. And with no seniors on the roster, Coach Oeth expects to return the whole squad, plus incoming freshmen, to next year’s lineup.

Second-seeded Harrisburg now advances to its fourth consecutive district final. The Bulldogs will take on fifth-seeded Salisbury, which upset Marceline, the fourth seed, by seven runs on Thursday before taking down first-seeded Westran 6-4 in extras on Friday.

“First off, hats off to Fayette for battling today,” said Harrisburg coach Chris Ackman. “We knew they would, and it was a tough game. Starbuck, Hunter, and Ike did a great job for us, pitching by committee, but now we have everyone available for Monday.”

After Harrisburg took an early lead in the bottom of the first, the Falcons struck back in the top of the third inning. Thaddeus Quint led it off with a single to left field, which was quickly followed by another single by Payton Oeth to put runners at first and second. Thomas Elliot then drew a walk to load the bases. Parker LaValley then put the ball in play and reached first on a Harrisburg error, scoring Quint and keeping the bases loaded. Jacob Wood then pulled his pitch toward third base and reached on another Harrisburg error, scoring Oeth and Elliot, putting the Falcons in a strong 3-1 lead.

Harrisburg answered in the bottom of the third, plating two runs to tie the game. Ike DeMuth scored on a fielder’s choice, and Bryce Ott scored on a Falcon error. Oeth, pitching in his second game in as many days for the Falcons, struck out the next Harrisburg batter to end the inning.

The determined Falcons took the lead back in the top of the fourth. After Quint drew a walk, he advanced to third on a hard-hit double by Oeth. Elliot then got the RBI, scoring Quint with a groundout to the shortstop.

Falcon head coach Andy Oeth was pleased with his team. “We’ve done well at the plate and on the mound this season and did it again tonight. We made some mistakes, but they weren’t effort or attitude mistakes.”

The back-and-forth game continued as Harrisburg plated another game-tying run in the bottom of the inning, with Rylee Robinson scoring on a Falcon error. Harrisburg tacked on another run to take a 5-4 lead in the bottom of the fifth.

“Taking the 5-4 lead in the bottom of the fifth gave us a little breathing room,” Ackman said.

The Falcons were unable to take advantage of back-to-back singles by Elliot and Oeth in the top of the sixth. In the bottom of the same inning, Harrisburg scored two more. With two Bulldog runners on base, senior Carter Bremer drove a long single to right field, scoring DeMuth and Ott to give Harrisburg the 7-4 lead.

“Our goal is always to score seven runs, and we achieved that today,” Coach Ackman said.

Down by three in the top of the seventh, the Falcons continued to compete. Freshman Parker LaValley led off with a single to left field. Caleb Craig then drove a ball deep to center for out one, and Jacob Wood struck out swinging for the second out. For the final out of the game, Ledgyr Conrow drove the ball deep to left field, but a good catch was made by Harrisburg outfielder Rylee Robinson to end the game with Harrisburg on top 7-4.

Oeth took the loss on the mound for Fayette, going five and one-third innings. The sophomore right-hander surrendered seven runs (three earned) on four hits, struck out six, and walked two.  

“Peyton did a great job tonight, and it was great to see our pitching staff develop over the year and I’m thrilled with how we battled as a team today,” Coach Oeth stated.

At the plate, Fayette had nine hits, with Oeth leading the way with a 4-for-4 performance. Elliot and LaValley each had an RBI.

Coach Oeth knows Fayette’s future is bright. “Our guys surprised me several times this season by their progression and stepping up to the moment. We’re bringing back a full team for next season and have some great talent joining them. I’m very excited for the future of the Fayette Falcon baseball program.”

Bulldogs’ starter Austin Starbuck earned the win for Harrisburg, giving up three Falcon runs (zero earned) over three innings. He struck out four and walked one. Bremer and Keagan Morris led the way for Harrisburg at the plate, each driving in two runs. Ott went 2-for-4 on the evening.

Coach Chris Ackman and his Harrisburg Bulldogs can now look forward to Monday night’s game. “We are excited to play for the district title on Monday, our fourth district title game in four years. We have split two of those games with Salisbury, so Monday’s game will be special.”

Harrisburg will host Salisbury for the Class 2, District 7 Championship game on Monday at 6 pm.


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