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Fairmont Senior halts Grafton rally for 6-3 senior night win

Apr. 24—FAIRMONT — Celebrating the veteran members of the team, Fairmont Senior baseball team held off a rally from Big X rival Grafton in a 6-3 win Tuesday night at Mary Lou Retton Park.

Fairmont Senior held a 4-1 lead after one inning, but Grafton rallied to make it a one-run game after five. The Polar Bears managed to fend off the Bearcats' potential rally and send their seniors off in style.

Head Coach Dave Ricer wasn't happy it got that close at the end, but said he was happy with Fairmont Senior's base running and defensive performance to get the win.

"[Steals got players in position] to push those run through," Ricer said. "Defense has been pretty solid lately overall. And we go to Elkins now."

Senior starting pitcher Sammy Vianni nearly tossed a complete game for Fairmont Senior's win. He pitched 6.1 innings, threw 114 pitches, allowing three runs, one earned, four hits, walked four batters and struck out nine.

"I felt like I did good," Vianni said. "I threw a bunch of strikes, but I also threw a bunch of balls too. I felt like I got in the hitter counts too much, that's why I threw a bunch of pitches, but all around I thought I did all right."

Sophomore Brayden Gorby relieved Vianni after the first out of the seventh. He threw just one pitch, which turned into a game-ending double play at first.

"Cam Peschl came in to play second base and gave me a great pitch recommendation," Gorby said. "And I threw the pitch and lined it out to [Hayden] Jones, and he turned a double play."

Three pitchers pitched two innings each for Grafton. Aiden Klepful started and allowed four runs, three earned, three hits, walked three batters and struck out two. Mason Sheme allowed one hit, walked two and struck out two. Greyson Ramezan allowed two runs, one earned, two hits, walked one and also struck out two.

With the game being senior night, Fairmont Senior honored Vianni, Jones, Dylan Ours, Slayton Jack and Ethan Miller. Ricer had high praise for all of them and even called Miller "one of the best defensive catchers around here, bar none."

"Defensively, I wouldn't want to try to steal on him," Ricer said. "And we like to steal."

Grafton got on the board in the top of the first thanks to a sacrifice RBI from Austin Mayle to score Isaac Lough. Fairmont Senior tied the game in the bottom of the inning, however, when Vianni's single entered center field and sent Peschl home, making it 1-1.

Still in the bottom of the first, Fairmont Senior scored three runs by stealing home. Logan Canfield stole home after Grafton's catcher tried cutting him off but threw the ball away, giving Fairmont Senior the lead. Tyler Veltri stole home on a dropped third strike, and Brock Martin stole home the same way Canfield did. The Polar Bears held a 4-1 lead after one inning.

Lough got his and Grafton's second run in the top of the third. Vianni threw a wild pitch that stuck itself between the padded mats of the backstop, allowing Lough to steal home and make it 4-2. He also scored the third Bearcats run when Jones made an errant throw to Vianni at first.

With Grafton attempting a rally, Gorby hit an RBI single to right center and scored Brody Whitehair to give Fairmont Senior a two-run lead and momentum. Vianni scored Gorby shortly after with a perfectly placed bunt down the third base line to make it 6-3 in the bottom of the sixth.

Up by three at the top of the seventh, Vianni got one more out before coming off the mound when Jones caught a pop fly. Gorby came in to relieve Vianni, and all he needed to close was one pitch. The batter hit a line drive right to Jones, who caught it and touched first for the double play and seal the win.

"I didn't want it to bounce," Jones said. "I thought it might have to catch it off the short hop, but luckily got it in the air, got the tag on first and just ended the game quickly."

Victorious over Grafton, Fairmont Senior turns its attention to Wednesday's road game at Elkins, a team Ricer described as "up and down." Jones will get the start on the mound, according to Ricer. Game starts at 6 p.m.

Reach Colin C. Rhodes at 304-367-2548