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Warren fights back from early deficit, wins 5-4

Warren’s Derek McAfee applauds after arriving at third base because he represented the go-ahead run in the Warriors’ 5-4 come-from-behind win over Fairfield Union. (Photo by Josh Hughes)

VINCENT — When the Warren Warriors were down, they responded in due time. That’s what visiting Fairfield Union found out during WHS’s 5-4 win during Monday night’s sectional semifinal game.

Trailing 3-0 heading into the home half of the fifth, Warren closed the gap in a hurry. A trio of runs during that frame and two more in the sixth got the job done, as head coach Ryan Lemley’s team moves on to play in Wednesday’s sectional championship against Sheridan, as the Generals took care of Washington Court House in 12 innings.

Starting pitcher Kurt Taylor rallied later in the ballgame but found trouble early on, as he finished with seven strikeouts and three walks in 5.2 innings pitched. The jeopardy for Warren (18-10) began when Fairfield Union’s Connor Schorr blasted an RBI two-bagger to deep right. That brought home Wyatt West (who reached earlier on an error) to make it a 1-0 game.

On the defensive side for the Falcons (7-6), the infield smothered anything hit to them.

Starter Nathan Hoffman only gave up a pair of hits in the first couple innings, and his ground ball pitching was a key to his success. He kept rolling into the bottom of the fifth, and a pair of insurance runs from Ronnie Rowley and Ethan Hyme gave him a manageable cushion. However, Warren’s bats couldn’t stay cold forever.

WHS got the home half of the fifth started in the right direction, with Caleb Davis firing a shot up the middle to get aboard. This was the first of a string of hits that turned the tide, as the Warriors did not have an extra-base hit in this contest. The aggressive approach from coach Lemley’s squad paid off in spades, as Lemley talked about what it took for the bats to heat up at the right time.

“I thought the kids did a good job making contact,” he said. Through the game, we hit a lot of balls hard that went to people. Sometimes in baseball, you have those days, and you get beat. Brayden Gerber had a big bunt to moves a pair of guys over, and so I thought he had really good at-bats, today. He got the big hit that put us ahead, and we tacked on an insurance run. He’s a senior, and that’s what we expect those guys to do.”

Before Gerber played hero ball, the Warriors continued to chip away at the Falcons’ advantage with nearly every plate appearance. After Davis got on, Hunter Vincent was issued a free pass which allowed Gerber to come up and move them over with a bunt. Then, the comeback was officially in motion.

Scott Reynolds smoked a two-run single after Evan Gandee grounded out to bring home the first Warren run of the evening. With the game tied, Warren was back at it in the sixth. Derek McAfee advanced to second after singling and moving up due to a bad throw on a pickoff attempt. Then, Davis bunted his way on to put runners on the corners with nobody out. After Vincent was hit by a pitch, the bases were loaded for Gerber. He brought in the go-ahead run with a single, as Reynolds added one more later that inning. The Falcons only managed one last run via Hyme grounding into a 1-4-3 putout. Gandee recorded the final out by striking Josh Tipton out swinging, as coach Lemley reflected on the victory.

“We started six seniors, and they’re not ready to be done,” he said. “We just found a way to win, and it was partially due to our schedule. We’d been in spots like this, so it was nothing new for us. They just had to battle through, and I’m really proud of them.”

Contact Josh Hughes at jhughes@newsandsentinel.com

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