Griffins Climb Out of 4-0 Hole to Tip Caps

Tavaris Cook (1) hustles down to third stretching an RBI single into a three-bagger Tuesday. (Joe Seibles)

WINNSBORO – Anyone who tells you they have baseball figured out is a liar, because all logic and reason appeared to have Fairfield Central on the short end of a long night in Tuesday’s Region III matchup with Columbia High School. After one laborious and painstaking inning of work, Griffin starter Compton Walker had spotted the Capitals four runs on just one hit. Three walks, a hit batsman and three wild pitches gave away the early lead and quickly ran Walker’s pitch count to 31 as the senior right-hander struggled to find the strike zone.

But in the bottom of the second, Columbia starter William Gossette, who had looked so accurate in the first frame, came completely unhinged, walking five Griffins and giving up a pair of runs in the 40-pitch inning. The Caps had opened the door just a crack, letting Fairfield back in their kitchen, and it wouldn’t take long before the Griffins were emptying out the Columbia refrigerator, raiding the pantry for 14 run on the night en route to the 14-6 win.

“That wasn’t the prettiest baseball game in the world, was it? But I’m glad to be on this end instead of the other one, though” Griffin head coach Scotty Dean said. “It’s all about our pitching. . . . I kept saying, if we get out of the first inning, we’ll be all right”

Walker settled down in the second, striking out three to retire the side, and added two more strikeouts in the third to hold the Caps at four. In the bottom of the third, the Griffins’ feeding frenzy began. Gossette was lifted with one out after walking the bases loaded. Thomas Allen came on in relief, but could not stem the tide, walking in a pair of runs before surrendering a 2RBI single to Javaris Cook and a 2RBI double to Chris Boyd. The Griffins sent 13 batters to the plate in the seven-run inning to get up off the mat and take a 10-4 lead.

“I think we’ve got a good baseball team, I really do,” Dean said. “When we hit the ball, we hit it just as good as anybody we’re going to play. We field it just as good as anybody.”

Walker again saw his pitch count rise in the top of the fourth, giving up a walk and a pair of singles. Columbia plated two in the inning to creep to within earshot at 10-6. The Griffins silenced the Columbia rallying cry in the bottom half, however, as Griffin third baseman Akeem Foster, batting out of the nine-hole, hammered the first pitch he saw into deep center field. The park just barely held it, and as the ball crashed against the bottom of the fence, Foster raced to second with a leadoff double, setting the table for a three-run effort by Fairfield.

“Up until tonight, (Foster) has had like 13 at bats and seven strikeouts,” Dean said. “He was struggling, but we worked on that stuff yesterday, he came in and did what we asked him to do, coach (Steve) McDonald did a great job with him in the batting cage yesterday, and that ball he hit, I thought it was gone.”

Tavaris Cook Singled Foster in, driving his first pitch into the outfield. He would eventually wind up at third on the throw in by the Capitals’ defense and come home on a wild pitch. Javaris Cook reached on a walk, stole second and advanced to third on the throw down form the catcher. He would make it across the plate on the throw to first by the Columbia catcher, putting out Jarvis Kennedy at first on a dropped third strike.

Tavaris would also add the final clause in the Griffins’ insurance policy in the sixth, reaching on a walk, stealing second, taking third on a wild pitch and scoring on an RBI single by Walker.

Walker, who had thrown 24 balls, walking four through the first three innings, improved with time and the lead. Walker tossed only 18 balls in the final three frames, walking none, while running his strikeout total to 13 on the night. His best inning was his last, when he threw only seven pitches, five for strikes.

“(Walker) is hard on himself,” Dean said. “He’s got high expectations for himself. Once he walked off and got out of that first inning only giving up four runs, I said ‘Compton, they scored four runs and only got one hit. They’re not going to hit the baseball. Throw strikes; throw your stuff and its good enough that you’ll be fine.’ Once we came back and got into the game and tied it up I thought he had some confidence in himself. . . . Thirteen strikeouts. How do you do that?”

Walker was helped out in the final inning by some elegant fielding by Foster at third, who picked two red-hot worm-burners out of the dust in the corner and fired to first to record the final two outs.

“You’re not going to find anybody in our league with a third baseman whose going to make that play,” Dean said.

The win puts the Griffins at 3-2 in region play and in the hunt for playoff contention. Fairfield hosts Eau Claire tonight (April 4) in another key region game, and Richard Winn Academy Monday in non-region play before hitting the road next week (April 8) to take on Keenan.

CHS: 400 200 0 – 6 5 1

FCHS: 037 301 x – 14 8 2

WP: Compton Walker (FC). 7 innings, 6R, 2ER, 5H, 6BB, 13K, 1HB. 35TBF. 134P, 74S, 60B.

LP: William Gossette (CH). 2.1 innings. 6R, 0ER, 2H, 8BB, 2K. 17TBF. 74P, 25S, 49B;

T. Allen (CH): 0.2 innings. 7R, 3ER, 4H, 4BB, 2HB. 12TBF. 46P, 20S, 26B;

T. Blocker (CH): 3 innings. 1R, 0ER, 2H, 2BB, 4K. 12TBF. 39P, 21S, 18B.

2B: Chris Boyd, Akeem Foster (FC). RBI: D. Weston, C. Brown (CH); T. Cook (3), J. Cook (3), C. Walker (2), C. Boyd (2), A. Foster (FC).

Time of Game: 2:30.

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