Barons start season with split


New coach, new backstop padding, new dugout netting, new press box layout and a brand new freshman shortstop that drove in the go-ahead runs in the Buckeye Valley baseball team’s season-opening victory over Fairfield Union.

Freshman Fletcher Holquist grounded a single up the middle to drive in the go-ahead runs in BV’s 5-3 victory over Fairfield Union in the first game of a doubleheader Saturday afternoon in Delaware.

“I just looked fastball,” Holquist said. “You just battle until you get one. When they’re in – you’ve just gotta find the hole in the infield and hit it hard enough to get it by them.”

The Falcons came back with a 10-run fourth inning of the second game to post an 11-4 win to earn the split.

“We couldn’t stop the bleeding with two outs there,” first-year BV coach Drew Kirby said. “At the end of the day – we’ve gotta make some plays to give ourselves the opportunity to advance to the next inning and the following innings. We didn’t give ourselves an opportunity to compete in game two there.”

Travis Pennington lined a one-out single to center and Evan Ulrich doubled down the right field line to set up Holquist’s go-ahead hit in the bottom of the sixth of the opener.

Ulrich, who is battling an ankle injury, said it took him a little while to get warmed up on the mound.

The Falcons didn’t hit the ball out of the infield for a hit in the opening frame. Derek Buckalew and Austin McCafferty each reached on back-to-back infield singles and, a pair of walks later, Fairfield Union led 1-0.

A hit-batter scored the second run and a wild pitch put BV in a 3-0 hole.

“I had (my ankle) pre-taped and it wasn’t loose yet,” Ulrich said. “I wasn’t striding out enough. The next inning, I started stretching a little bit and striding out more and it helped a little bit.”

Ulrich was brilliant from there. He retired 19 of the final 21 batters of the game – giving up a walk in the third and a base hit in the fifth and finished with 11 strikeouts in a complete-game victory.

“It just speaks to the character of person he is – he came out those next six innings and threw very well for us,” Kirby said. “He came out and showed what he’s very capable of doing on the mound.”

All told, Holquist reached base four times between the two games with two hits in the first game and a pair of walks in the second. Travis Pennington picked up a pair of hits in the first game and added another in the second for the Barons (1-1).

“We’ve seen it for quite some time now that (Holquist) has the ability to be a varsity player as a freshman … and a large contributor at the varsity level as a freshman,” Kirby said. “He’s really stepped it up in the way he trains every day. He’s really bought in to what we’re trying to do as a program and not just an individual standpoint.”

The Barons were done in by a two-out rally in the fourth inning of game two.

BV pitcher Grant Owens got the first two outs on nine pitches.

Nick Tipton and Ryan Morgan each reached on back-to-back infield singles and scored on Ben Miller’s base hit to give the Falcons a 3-1 lead.

Spencer Conrad’s two-run double to the wall in right pushed the lead to four, chasing Owens.

McCafferty and Tylor Wolfe each followed with RBI singles and Trey Henry drove another across with a bases loaded hit-by-pitch to extend the lead to 8-1.

Two more scored on an error and a third crossed the plate on a pair of wild pitches to push the lead to 11-1.

“We were having a difficult time throwing strikes,” Kirby said. “Today they were hopping on fastballs … swinging at good pitches. We didn’t make the routine play in the clutch situation. Those things failed us a little bit today, but we’re going to get to back at it and come back strong next week.”

Hunter Moffatt had a RBI single in the bottom half of the inning and Ulrich and Holquist each worked bases loaded walks in the seventh to account for the final margin.

Buckalew got the win for the Falcons in the second game. He allowed four unearned runs on four hits and four walks over 6.2 innings.

Buckalew led on offense with a pair of hits and a run in the first game for the Falcons (1-1).

Owens was saddled with the loss in the second game for the Barons, allowing six runs (all earned) on five hits and four walks over 3.2 innings.

Jon Hillberry took the loss for the Falcons in the opener. He allowed five runs (all earned) on six hits and a walk over 5.2 innings.

Next up, BV opens MOAC play at home against River Valley Tuesday at 5:15 p.m.

By Michael Rich

For the Gazette

Follow Michael Rich on Twitter @mrichnotwealthy or contact him at [email protected].

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