By Matt Welch
Times West Virginian
When North Marion and East Fairmont stepped onto the field for the 2014 season’s first game, East Fairmont 10-runned the Huskies.
But Friday night when the Huskies and Bees played, it was North Marion who had turned the tables on No. 7 East Fairmont, winning 12-4.
The Huskies (8-10) needed just one inning to put the Bees (13-7) away, and it came early.
After North Marion starter Matt Hawkins kept East off the board in the top of the first inning, the Huskies went to work in the bottom half of the frame, tagging James Bolander for five runs on six hits with all nine starters coming to the plate.
After Hawkins helped his own cause by singling home Travis Smith who singled to lead off the inning, Skyler Brooks smashed a two-run double off the wall to put the Huskies up 3-0. Ryan Jolliffe and Cole Richards would each add RBI doubles before Bolander would get Cody Opron to ground out to end the onslaught.
“That’s one thing we really focus on. We work on our hitting every day,” North Marion coach Vic Seccuro said of the early hitting barrage. “The hard work is paying off for them. They really came together. This team clobbered us in the beginning. They were focused and they deserve the credit.”
The rough outing for Bolander comes just one week after he had the same type of outing against Bridgeport. And, like that game, the Bees attempted to rally back.
Down 7-0 going into the third inning, the Bees’ bats woke up.
With the bases loaded with one out, Travis Gordan dug in at the dish. Just an inning earlier Hawkins was able to get out of a bases-loaded situation with a ground ball and two strikeouts. He wouldn’t be so lucky this time around as Gordan drilled a two-run double into right-center field to put the Bees on the board. Jacob Bolander would score on a passed ball, and Colton Toothman would drive in Gordan on a groundout to cut the lead to 7-4.
“These kids respond,” East Fairmont coach Joe Price said of the rally. “It’s a good group. They’ll answer the bell.”
That’s the closest that the seventh-ranked East Fairmont team would come, though, the Huskies adding one run in the fifth inning and four more in the sixth for insurance.
“When you give a team that many runs early on, it’s tought to fight back,” Price said of the loss. “We need to make some pitches, pitch to contact and play some defense behind it.”
The first time around, Seccuro was worried that his pitching might not be where it needed to be, but now that the Huskies have won five of their last six — mostly with solid pitching efforts — the coach is happy.
“Matt has really come through, and we’ve got Skyler Brooks and a couple of other kids who can come in,” Seccuro said. “They just needed a little time, and they’ve got to face some good teams. East Fairmont is a good team.”
On the mound, Hawkins threw a complete game for the win, striking out nine, scattering four hits and allowing the four runs.
At the plate, each of the nine hitters picked up hits with Brooks leading the way with a 2-for-4 performance with three RBIs. Smith and Richards both added two hits, and Richards drove in two runs. Opron (two RBIs), Devin Ayersman (one RBI), Ryan Jolliffe (one RBI) and Hawkins (one RBI) also drove in runs for the Huskies in what Seccuro called a focused effort.
“They came to the game hungry to play,” Seccuro said. “I could tell that they would play good, but I didn’t know we would play this good.”
Leading the way for East Fairmont was Gordan, who went 2-for-4 with two RBIs. Truman Weese and Tanner Lambert also added hits in the loss.
After downing one in-county rival, the Huskies will look to take down the other on Monday when they travel to play No. 4 Fairmont Senior. Any win would be sweet. But winning two games in a row against ranked opponents which happen to be from the same county?
“That would be really huge,” Seccuro said, smiling. “Hopefully we can come Monday with the same approach.”
Email Matt Welch at email@example.com or follow on Twitter @MattWelch_TWV.