Fairmont Senior downs Frankfort 12-7 in game two amid ball controversy

May 21—FAIRMONT — Fairmont Senior hosted Frankfort Tuesday for Game 2 of the region series in an elimination game at Mary Lou Retton Park.

Frankfort entered the game up 1-0 in the best-of-three series.

The game turned into a back-and-forth affair and then a game played under protest as practice balls somehow made it into the game while Fairmont Senior was at bat in the third inning. It was in the third inning that Fairmont Senior ran away with it to beat Frankfort 12-7 and force game 3.

"Two good teams," Fairmont Senior head coach David Ricer said. "Anybody can pull it out at anytime. We talked a lot last night and a lot throughout the day today that sixth inning yesterday, third guy up hit to a double play, got nothing out of it. We make that double play, that's a whole other ballgame. We just preach to them that 'you guys can do this.' That's a great team over there, but we stay focused we'll be OK."

Starter Hayden Jones pitched the first three innings for Fairmont Senior and got the win. Dylan Ours relieved Jones in the fourth and pitched 1.1 innings. Brayden Gorby finished the game after Ours for the final 2.2 innings.

Fairmont Senior added effective hitting and fielding to go along with its effective pitching. The Polar Bears took advantage of mistakes by Frankfort's fielders and stolen bases to put itself in position to score every inning.

"We knew coming out today that we had to perform a lot better than we did yesterday," Ours said. "Limit the errors that we had, even hit the ball better, which we did. Throughout all [six] innings that we [batted], we were hitting balls every time... Just the overall baseball that we played tonight was incredibly more phenomenal than last night's."

Frankfort's Jaxon Hare got the start on the mound Tuesday. He pitched four innings before Cole Shunholte relieved him to start the fifth. Gunnar Bradshaw came in to close in the sixth.

According to Frankfort head coach Matt Miller, the pitching allowed too many walks and free base runners. Paired with the hitting struggles, the two factors decided the outcome of the game.

"We walked too many guys," Miller said. "Gave them too many free base runners, and that just killed us tonight. We let so many leadoff hitters on today with walks, and we can't do that and be successful.

"Hitting today, we hit enough, but we didn't hit like we're capable. We scored seven runs. That should be good enough to win the game but wasn't today because of their offense. They earn a win today and we play tomorrow."

The practice ball controversy came to light between the third and fourth innings. Somehow, someone put practice balls into the game, and Fairmont Senior batted with them in the third.

Miller said a ball used in the game did not have the two necessary stamps approved by the SSAC. Ricer thinks balls thrown in the infield between innings were accidentally thrown into the game.

"It wasn't that we ran out or tried to slide something in," Ricer said. "At that point in time, I thought everybody was pretty much equal when it happened."

The umpires delayed the game for nearly 30 minutes before resuming play. A report of the incident was sent to the SSAC in Parkersburg, who will decide if Fairmont Senior will be penalized. Miller expects some type of penalty because there is a rule prohibiting this kind of play.

"I'm not a member of the SSAC, but there's a reason why we have to use certain balls," Miller said. "If we're going to have rules, there has to be consequences. If there's not going to be consequences, there's no point having rules."

Frankfort had a strong start in the top of the first. Jacob Nething hit an RBI single to get the early lead, and Jaxon Hare hit a sacrifice RBI to make it a two-run game. Fairmont Senior's Dylan Ours responded with a sacrifice RBI in the bottom to score a run and make it 2-1 after the first inning.

Brayden Gorby tied the game for the Polar Bears with an RBI single in the bottom of the second. Frankfort regained the lead, however, when Blake Jacobs stole home on a wild pitch in the top of the third to make it 3-2.

The bats came alive for Fairmont Senior in the bottom of the third, although it was not without controversy. Ours batted in the game-tying run to start, and then Jones batted in two more to give Fairmont Senior the lead. Cam Peschl hit a two-run RBI double right after, and Sammy Viani batted in two more on his single to finish the scoring and put the Polar Bears up 9-3 at the end of three.

After the officials delayed the game to check the balls, Cam Lynch got back a run for Frankfort in the top of the fourth to cut the game to five runs, but that was all the Falcons gained that inning. Gunnar Bradshaw and Lanson Orndort hit back-to-back RBI singles in the top of the fifth to bring in two runs and make it 9-6.

Fairmont Senior got another two-run RBI in the bottom of the fifth. Brock Martin launched the ball into deep left to extend the lead to five. It would have been a three-run RBI, but one of the Polar Bears' runners got tagged out at home.

Frankfort kept itself in the game with an RBI single from Uriah Cutter to make it a four-run game in the top of the sixth. Gorby got Fairmont Senior an RBI in the bottom of the inning to put the Polar Bears back up by five 12-7.

It was a quick set of three outs in four batters in the top of the seventh to seal the game. Now, it's a winner-take all Game 3 at Frankfort on Wednesday. Fairmont Senior expects to see Lynch on the mound for Frankfort, while the Polar Bears' pitcher is to be determined.

"We're expecting to see Cam Lynch," Ours said. "It's who we saw in the first game that we played them down at their place, so it's nothing new. We saw the pitches coming from him before. We're going out and looking to do the same exact thing as we did today."

The only thing that could cancel the game other than the weather is a ruling from the SSAC that Fairmont Senior should forfeit Game 2's result. The decision will have to come sometime Wednesday morning or early afternoon at the latest.

Reach Colin C. Rhodes at 304-367-2548