The Times West Virginian

Prep Sports

May 20, 2014

Fairmont Senior wins a pair to advance to sectional finals; Bees, Huskies face elimination game

FAIRMONT — With the bases loaded in the sixth inning, Fairmont Senior pitcher Austin Norman dug into the batters box Monday at Mary Lou Retton Park.

Looking back at him from the pitcher’s mound was East Fairmont’s Jacob Bolander, the same right-hander that less than a month earlier no-hit the Polar Bears to outdueled Norman in a 1-0 victory.

But if there was a sign that the rematch was a different story, it came when Norman cracked the Bolander offering to the centerfield fence. The triple knocked in three runs and knocked Bolander out of the game.

The sophomore’s day on the mound was done.

From no-hit to no doubt, the Polar Bears coasted the rest of the way to an easy 11-3 victory in the sectional playoffs.

“Ever since they beat us the first time, we were like we’ve got to come out with some fire, a spark,” said Norman, who struck out nine, allowed six hits, walked two, hit two and surrendered three runs. “This was a grudge match tonight. We had to get the win.”

With the win, the Polar Bears advance to Wednesday’s 6 p.m. sectional title game.

North Marion, which lost 7-4 to Fairmont Senior in Game 1 of the doubleheader, will play East Fairmont today at 6 p.m. to decide who gets a shot at revenge against the Bears.

It’s a difficult situation for the two losers to come back and play an elimination game. North Marion coach Vic Seccuro admitted, “Our backs are against the wall.”

But East Fairmont coach Joe Price believes his team can respond.

“These guys are resilient,” he said. “They’re going to come back tomorrow. They’re ready to play. If we could play right now, they’d play right now.”

The Bees didn’t look like they’d be in the loser’s bracket when the game began. Bolander picked up right where he left off the last time he was on the mound against Fairmont Senior, extending his no-hit streak to nine-innings against the rival from across the river.

Finally, with one out in the third inning, the No. 9 hitter in the Polar Bears’ order, Trae Hall, hit a seeing-eye single through the left side of the infield. The Fairmont Senior faithful celebrated as if they had won the game right then and there.

“It was a big weight off of our shoulders,” said Hall. “We had to crack open the first one.”

After the first hit trickled through, the rest came pouring out. Ryan Ricer, Norman, Johnny Kesling and Bailey Mohr all followed with hits. Then Jace Riley hit a ball deep to right field to clear the bases and give the Polar Bears a 5-1 lead.

East Fairmont cut the margin to 5-2 when Tanner Lambert drove in his second run of the game. But Norman’s sixth-inning shot quickly put the game out of reach.

Ricer drove in Shea Fitch in the top of the seventh with his third hit of the game, and Johnny Kesling closed things out on the mound with a double play and strikeout in the bottom part of the inning.

The Polar Bears, who started the day in a tough spot, now find themselves sitting back watching the North Marion-East Fairmont game today.

“We just took them one game at at time,” said Fairmont Senior coach Steve Naternicola. “You can’t be looking forward when you’re in sectionals. You’ve got to look at your opponent and hopefully outscore them and limit your mistakes.”

Added Norman: “With these two wins today we’re sitting pretty, but it’s still not over. We’ve got a game Wednesday and we’re looking forward to that one.”

Email Mike DeFabo at mdefabo@timeswv.com or follow him on Twitter @MikeDeFaboTWV.

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