McNew's grand slam deflates East Fairmont, Bees lose 5-2 to Preston

May 2—PLEASANT VALLEY — The beginning of May and the last week of the regular season, East Fairmont hosted Big X opponent Preston for a Wednesday evening game on the diamond.

Thanks to a grand slam from their starting pitcher and a slow start at bat for East Fairmont, Preston walked away with a 5-2 victory. East Fairmont Head Coach Joe Price credited Preston's pitcher, Brady McNew, for his performance on the mound and said East Fairmont didn't bat as well as they could have.

"We didn't square many balls up tonight like I thought we should have," Price said. "Too many fly outs to be honest. We got to get back to hard ground balls and good line drives, looking for our pitches early on and taking advantage of that, and we just didn't do that tonight."

McNew pitched a complete game for Preston. He faced 28 batters, allowed two runs and four hits, walked four batters and struck out six. McNew also shined on offense with a grand slam in the fourth to give Preston a five run lead.

East Fairmont's batters saw everything from McNew while at the plate. It kept them off balance and resulted in the slow offensive start from the Bees.

"We were seeing everything," Brody Bledsoe said. "From fastballs to curveballs to knuckleballs. He really mixed it up well."

Bledsoe started on the mound for East Fairmont. He pitched five innings, allowed five runs and eight hits, walked one batter, hit two by pitch and struck out six. River McClain relieved Bledsoe to start the sixth and allowed one hit, hit one batter by pitch and struck out one.

Despite the number of runs and hits Bledsoe gave up, Price thought he pitched a good game. The reason East Fairmont lost was because Preston's batters placed the balls where the fielders weren't despite the bad contact.

"He got a lot of bad contact, and that's what we preach," Price said. "You throw to get contact, get bad contact and we make plays behind him. They were just hitting it to where we weren't. And again, hats off to them. That's just the way the ball goes some days. They earned the win right there."

Preston scored first, with Robbie Lowe hitting the ball just out of reach of Owen Music's glove at short to send in Ayden Ward for the first run of the game. Preston took a 1-0 lead at the top of the second.

Two innings later, Preston worked its way to load the bases with Tanner Thomas at third, Slayton Manko at second and Lowe at first. McNew came up to bat and crushed Bledsoe's pitch towards right field. The ball bounced off the top of the fence for a grand slam to make it 5-0.

"That was a really good executed curveball," Bledsoe said. "Brady golfed it out and took it over the fence. It was a great swing by him."

East Fairmont got on the board in the bottom of the fourth to avoid the shutout. Case Linn's grounder to the shortstop advanced Tanner Mayfield home on a sacrifice RBI. The Bees remained down 5-1, however.

Mayfield batted in another run for East Fairmont in the bottom of the sixth. His single passed the shortstop to score Ian Graffius to make it at 5-2 Preston lead.

Down three in the bottom of the seventh, East Fairmont needed a rally but got a three-up, three-down. McClain popped out to second, Tristan Boone popped out to short, and Music struck out swinging to end the game.

"We didn't have great approaches at the plate, but defense was very sound," Bledsoe said. "Credit to Brady McNew. Great swing on a good executed pitch, and that kind of just flattened us honestly. But we got Philip Barbour tomorrow. We're coming back stronger."

East Fairmont hosts Philip Barbour Thursday at 5:30 p.m. for the last home game of the regular season. The Bees hit the road to John Marshall for the regular season finale on Friday before sections start next week.

The last two games have no bearing on East Fairmont's ranking in the section tournament. The Bees already locked in the second seed, according to Bledsoe. It's a matter of getting back in a rhythm before the section opener against Weir on Tuesday, May 7.

Reach Colin C. Rhodes at 304-367-2548.