FAIRBORN — Skyhawks head coach Tim Duncan likened Monday’s shutout win over visiting Xenia to a high-ball low-ball chess match.
“Xenia’s pitcher did a nice job of keeping the ball low, and we adjusted to that. Then she started throwing rise ball after rise ball after rise ball … and we kept swinging at the damned thing,” Duncan said. “Fortunately for us, once we stopped swinging at those high pitches, she had to change her point of attack again. And when that happened, we teed off on what she threw. It’s just a game of chess.”
Check and mate.
The host Skyhawks (11-8, 9-4 Greater Western Ohio Conference, American South) capitalized on some early Xenia miscues for a 2-0 lead, then “teed off” for a three-run sixth inning, to earn a 5-0 shutout win over the Buccaneers (10-8, 8-3 GWOC South).
Monday’s Fairborn win tightens the battle for the Greater Western Ohio Conference’s American South division title.
“It’s a must-win game for us now when we play them again at our place (at 5 p.m. on Tuesday, May 1 at Xenia High). We’ve gotta win (Tuesday) and then I think we’ve gotta win one of our last two games,” Xenia coach John Miner said. “Aside from us, Fairborn’s season is done. So because of the weather, Mother Nature has kind of favored us to where we get another shot at Tipp City Tippecanoe (on Wednesday, May 2) and then (Friday, May 4) at Greenville.
“If we can manage a split with Fairborn, and then get one more win over either Tippecanoe or Greenville, we can still claim the GWOC South title.”
Both Tippecanoe (12-7, 7-4) and Greenville (19-4, 13-0) are in the GWOC’s American Conference, but in the North division. Xenia and Fairborn are also in the American Conference, but play in the South division. All Conference games count in the divisional standings.
To start the contest, Fairborn’s Kelsie Coleman and Riley Davis reached base on successive Xenia errors. Then with two out, Kenzie Culbertson and Alexis Hicks hit back-to-back singles to bring home both runs in the first inning.
Xenia left six batters on base, and had the bases loaded in the fourth, but failed to score.
The Skyhawks then broke the game open in the sixth. Destiny Ferrigno led off the inning with a double, advanced on a fielder’s choice play that put Kiara McConnaughey on first. Ferrigno then scored on a Coleman groundout to first.
Davis got on base with a two-out single to right to move McConnaughey to third. Then, both McConnaghey and Davis scored on Kendall Winn’s single into centerfield that skeetered away from the Bucs outfielder for an error.
“Tim Duncan is doing great things with the Fairborn team here, and kudos to him for his first year with the program. They’re a very good team,” Miner said. “We just have to regroup and hopefully play a better game against them at our place.”
Contact John Bombatch at 937-372-4444, Ext. 2123.