FAIRBORN — A resilient Fairborn team needed eight innings to fend off an upset minded bunch from Riverside Stebbins on Tuesday, April 11 at George Winkhouse Stadium.
The Skyhawks’ ninth batter in the Fairborn order — Branden Lilley — smacked an opposite field walk-off single into right field to score Luke Crowley with the game’s winning run.
Crowley had been down to his last strike before drawing a two-out walk in the bottom of the eighth. Then, Damian Burnett advanced next on four consecutive pitches outside of the strike zone. That set-up Lilley’s heroics, and he too was down to his last strike.
“We made the hits and made the plays when they needed to be made today, and that was great,” Fairborn skipper Josh Patrick said after the game. “We had some guys step up. Branden Lilley broke through with a big-time at-bat with a full count. He stepped up big for us. We didn’t play great. From top to bottom, it wasn’t one of our better games. But we found a way to win, and that’s what’s important.”
The game was a back-n-forth affair almost from the start.
First, Fairborn had grabbed a 3-0 lead in the first with two runs scored on infield groundouts and another on Jon Fields’ single to left.
Stebbins countered with two runs in the second, and then grabbed a 4-3 lead when the Indians plated two more runs in the top of the fifth inning.
The Greater Western Ohio Conference American South-leading Skyhawks (6-2, 4-0 GWOC American South) responded with two runs of their own in the bottom of the fifth — Jacob Webb and Ryan Profitt hit back-to-back doubles (Webb’s brought in Profitt), then Mark Rich singled to score Webb — giving Fairborn a 5-4 lead.
But Stebbins rallied again. This time, Owen Holland reached base on a walk, moved to third on a groundout then scored on Josh Cvetkevich’s single into left field.
Neither team could muster a run in the seventh, and that set-up Fairborn’s eighth inning win. Despite the loss, Stebbins coach Mike Weiler appreciated his team’s play.
“That’s been kind of our mantra,” Weiler said. “We have some mental lapses early on, and give up some runs. Then we battle from behind. But today we played really well. We had guys who came off the bench and really did their job. … Josh Cvetkevich is like controlled chaos on the mound for us, but he knows what he’s doing up there. He pitched a solid game for us today. And T.J. Henry, or shortstop, has some of the smoothest hands around. Both those guys are undeclared (for college), but they deserve to go somewhere.”
Fairborn has a make-up game at 5 p.m. today (Wednesday, April 12) at Trotwood-Madison High.
Stebbins (2-10, 1-6 GWOC American) can rest up until 5 p.m. Friday, when they’ll travel to Piqua for a GWOC game.
You can reach John Bombatch at 937-372-4444, Ext. 2123.