Williams Delivers in the Clutch as Griffins Out-Duel Chester

Rodderick Woodard makes a circus catch in left to end the Cyclones' threat in the second. (Photo/Ross Burton)

Rodderick Woodard makes a circus catch in left to end the Cyclones’ threat in the second. (Photo/Ross Burton)

WINNSBORO (March 21, 2016) – On the arm of sophomore pitcher Antonio Jackson, the Fairfield Central Griffins downed the Chester Cyclones at home Monday, 4-1, in what was a solid pitching duel for most of the game.

“If we continue to pitch and play defense the way we have, we had one error in the last two games, that’s what baseball is all about: pitching, and defense, and timely hitting,” Griffins head coach Scotty Dean said, “and right we’re doing it pretty good. We keep that up, we can compete.”

Jackson pitched all seven innings, struck out eight and did not allow a hit until the fourth inning. Chester starter Anthony McCullough also delivered a solid performance with 5 and a third innings pitched, four hits and two-earned.

The Cyclones’ first batter of the game, Jake Wright, who has committed to the Gamecocks, was hit by a pitch and moved into scoring position after a McCullough sacrifice bunt. Wright came into score on an error for the Cyclones’ sole run.

Fairfield did not wait long to get on the board. Montavis Thompson, their first batter, reached on a walk, stole second base and then scored on a one-out single off the bat of the versatile Jackson.

Chester knocked into two consecutive groundouts to begin the second, but saw a little hope when Jackson walked centerfielder Danny Vess. That enthusiasm was quickly dashed when Rodderick Woodard made an athletic catch in left field to end the threat.

Brandon Adams managed to scrape up a hit for the Griffins in the bottom of the second. However, the pinch-runner was picked off at first, and the rest of the inning went down without a whimper from Fairfield.

Chester got one on base in the third, this time courtesy of a two-out walk by Jackson, but Jackson struck out Cyclones second baseman Ty Good to escape the inning with a no-hitter still intact. McCullough continued to silence the Griffins’ bats in the bottom half of the third.

Cyclone senior Tyler Jordan broke the spell in the fourth with a lead-off base-hit, the first hit of the night for Chester. Jackson kept himself composed, and retired the next three batters in order, with two strikeouts to boot.

Fairfield fell victim to quick 1-2-3 innings in the fourth and fifth. Chester also went down in order in the fifth.

Chester squandered a key opportunity in the top of the sixth to put themselves back in the lead. Good, and first baseman Luke Blanchett, both had a hit, but were tagged out on the base path.

This would prove to be a blessing for the Griffins, because their bats finally woke up in the bottom of the sixth. Jackson came up with his second hit of the game, this time a one-out double.

Travious Williams, who knocked in six runs against Richard Winn Friday, came up with the clutch RBI double to give the Griffins their first lead of the game. They would tack on two more runs to add some insurance to their lead going into the final inning.

Jackson got a quick ground ball to lock up the first out, but Vess kept Chester’s hopes alive with a one-out double. This hit prompted a mound visit from coach Dean.

“I said, ‘We got (the) eight and nine (hitters); if one (J. Wright) comes up he can probably tie the game up with one swing’,” Dean said about the late mound trip. “‘We don’t want to put ourselves in that position, do we?’ He said, ‘No coach. I got it. We can finish.’ Then I said, ‘Well you deserve it, you earned it, I’m going to let you have it’.”

The words worked because the very next Chester batter, Pacey Church, flew out and Vess was tagged out at third to wrap the game up for the Griffins.

“The close wins let you know that you can make a routine play when the pressure is on you,” Dean said. “The close wins let you know that we can get that hit in the clutch. The close wins let me know that I can get a big out when I need it.”

The Griffins travel to Pelion March 22, then host Keenan on March 24. After Spring Break, they are back in action at home April 5 vs. Columbia. All games begin at 6 p.m.

 

FC: 1-0-0-0-0-3-X

CH: 1-0-0-0-0-0-0

Pitching: FC – Antonio Jackson (W), CG, 4H, 1R, 0ER, 3BB, 8K, 1HB, 1WP. CH – Anthony McCullough (L), 5.1 IP, 4H, 3R, 2ER, 2BB, 3K, 1WP; Jordan Price, .2IP, 0H, 1R, 0ER, 0BB, 1K, 1BK, 1WP.

Hitting: 1B – Antonio Jackson, B. Adams (FC); Tyler Jordan, T. Good (CH). 2B – A. Jackson, T. Williams (FC); T. Jordan, D. Vess (CH). RBI – A. Jackson, T. Williams (FC).

LOB: FC-4, CH-2.