By Matt Welch
Times West Virginian
PLEASANT VALLEY —
Baseball is in full swing and so were the bats of East Fairmont and Fairmont Senior as they both ended their games early by 10-running their opponents to open their seasons.
East beat North Marion, 14-2, and Fairmont Senior beat Liberty (Harrison), 11-1, Thursday night at East Fairmont High School.
In game one of the double-header, East Fairmont jumped out on the Huskies quickly, posting a 9-run second inning to set the tone.
Colton Toothman and Tyler Weiss started things off with back-to-back singles to spark the onslaught. James Bolander, EJ Trickett, Travis Gordan, Toothman and Weiss would all drive in runs in the inning.
“That was a total team win,” East coach Joe Price said of the victory. “Offensively, when you put up 14 runs, most of the time you’re going to come up on the winning side of the game.”
On the hill for the Bees, sophomore Jacob Bolander threw all five innings of the shortened game, giving up just two runs on five hits while striking out five North Marion hitters.
“We got a very good pitching performance from Jacob Bolander and Truman Weese caught an excellent game,” Price said. “We pitched to contact and let our defense play.”
A few times the Huskies would fight back, plating two runs in the fourth inning off Keegum McCullough’s two-run bomb to straightaway centerfield where it’s marked at 375 feet. He would also lead the Huskies for the night, going 2-for-3 at the plate with a single along with the home run and two RBI.
“Keegum had some nice hits and we had some other kids who did a nice job laying some bunts down and some other things,” North coach Vic Seccuro said after the game. “You’ve got to give Bolander a little credit; he’s a good pitcher. We’re right there; we’ve just got to get ready.”
After McCullough’s homer, North loaded the bases on three walks, but Bolander was able to get out of the jam with a ground ball.
“I was just worried about getting some ground balls, maybe doubling up. Just keeping it low so they didn’t hit in it the air,” Bolander said of the situation. “My brother’s at short and my friends are in the infield, so they have my back. They always have my back.”
Leading the Bees was Trickett, who went 2-for-3 with two RBI. James Bolander, Toothman and Stanley Deavers also had two RBI while Weiss, Jacob Bolander, Travis Gordon and Tanner Lambert each drove in one.
The win brings the Bees to 1-0 but they don’t have too much time to celebrate as they’re scheduled to play Lewis County today at 7 p.m.
“We can enjoy it today, but we’re looking forward to Lewis County,” Price said.
In the night cap, Fairmont Senior, behind the bat of senior Austin Norman, handled Liberty (Harrison), 11-1.
After grounding out during his first plate appearance, Norman finished the night by hitting not one, but two home runs to propel the Polar Bears to victory.
Norman, who had ankle surgery in October, attributed the strong outing to hard work in the off-season.
“We’ve put a lot of time in the cage hitting balls,” Norman said. “It was a good team win tonight. I’m proud of the team.”
Norman, along with Bailey Mohr, also got some time on the mound for Fairmont Senior, something coach Steve Naternicola said was by design.
“I wanted to get them some work before we start into next week,” he said.
Mohr went 3.0 innings, giving up just one hit while striking out four, while Norman went 2.0 innings, allowing one hit and striking out five.
After Norman’s first home run, Fairmont Senior led 3-0 and the Polar Bears never looked back, holding Liberty scoreless until the fifth inning.
From there, a flurry of hits in the bottom of the sixth by Fairmont Senior’s bench caused the game to be called after Shea Fitch drove in the 11th run of the game.
“I wanted to get those young guys in,” Naternicola said. “We lost a lot of quality ballplayers last year, and we’ve got four or five young kids that are starting.”
Norman finished the game going 2-for-3 at the plate with two home runs, one of which was a grand slam, and six RBI. Also driving in runs were Trevor Devaul and Fitch.
Fairmont Senior is scheduled to play on the road at Jefferson on Saturday.
Email Matt Welch at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow on Twitter @MattWelch_TWV.