FAIRMONT — The Fairmont Senior Polar Bears were on their way to being on the wrong side of a comeback in the top of the seventh inning against Philip Barbour.

Ahead 4-2 entering the sixth, a first-pitch home run by the Colts’ Brayden Cole tightened things to a single run, after squandering a two-out bases loaded situation in the bottom of the inning, Philip Barbour’s Alfred Isch had Fairmont Senior sweating with a leadoff double in the seventh.

Philip Barbour’s Mason Halfin blasted a double to the spot as Isch, left-center, to bring home a run and tie Thursday’s game.

The Polar Bears made a pitching change, bringing in junior Hayden Jones, who proceeded to put one of what would be multiple stamps on the game from the mound. After the Colts bunted Halfin over to put a man on third with one out, Jones struck out the next two batters, and punched out his second victim with a 3-2 curveball.

“First you got to throw strikes, you don’t want to put runners on base for free,” Jones said of his thoughts in the moment. “The next man up mentality, I didn’t want to let my teammates down.”

The Polar Bears couldn’t muster a baserunner in the bottom of the seventh, and Thursday’s contest was officially in extras.

Jones stayed locked in coming out to pitch his second inning, with another strike out wedged among a line out, a walk and a fly out.

Then came the bottom of the eighth.

Nate Whiteman came out looking to bunt, but was struck by a pitch, and took first base. Tyler Veltri bunted Whiteman over to second, and up came the top bat in the Polar Bears’ lineup, leadoff hitter Gunner Riley.

The Colts issued an intentional walk to the all-stater.

Sophomore Cam Peschl came up to bat then with runners on first and second. A hard struck ground ball to third allowed the Colts to record a force out at third base, but on the attempted double-play throw to first, Riley made his dash to third, and the throw was not in time to first.

Runners on the corners, two outs.

Up stepped Hayden Jones, who had kept the Polar Bears in the ball game with deft pitching in the seventh and eighth. The junior saw a couple pitches, then took a cut at a fastball high and inside.

The ball waffled through the air to shallow right, and dropped despite the manic efforts of the Colts first baseman and right fielder. Riley crossed home plate, and the game was Fairmont Senior’s, 5-4.

“I saw that right field was open, there was a nice gap,” Jones said of his last at-bat. “I was trying to push something to the right side. Kind of jammed me a little bit, but I managed to get it out there and thankfully it dropped.”

“They just gutted it out,” Fairmont Senior head coach Dave Ricer said. “That’s a sign of the character these guys have. They weren’t going to let this one go. They were determined that they were going to win this ball game. They did everything they had to do, we put the ball in play. [Jones] came in and shut the door, then he had to finish it off.”

Jones finished 1-1 on the day with a hit-by-pitch, a walk and two sacrifice flies. He recorded the win Thursday as a pitcher by way of his own walk-off single.

“We got in that situation where they put Gunner on, forced the guy to third, Jonesy came up and Jonesy did what he had to do,” Ricer said of Jones.

Philip Barbour takes the loss despite two home runs on the game — Cole’s solo shot in the sixth, and a Grant Harris two-run homer in the second inning that put the Colts ahead 2-1 at the time.

Logan Canfield drew the start for Fairmont Senior, and cracked open the afternoon’s scoring in the bottom of the first with a liner up the middle that drove in Jones.

Philip Barbour’s Albert Gonzales started the game for the Colts, and pitched an immaculate inning in the bottom of the second, felling three Polar Bears each with three-pitch strikeouts.

The Polar Bears tied things up in the bottom of the third, Riley drawing a walk and promptly swiping second base, moving to third on a Cam Peschl ground out. Jones thumped a deep drive into left field to bring Riley home.

Fairmont Senior built a two-run lead all in the fifth. The Polar Bears made the most of their outs, recording both runs on balls put in play, but neither being hits. Peschl grounded out for the first out of the inning, but Blake Straight was able to score from third. After a wild pitch put Riley on third, another Hayden Jones sac fly once again drove in Riley.

Fairmont Senior stands at 3-0 this season, and hits the road to play Logan on Saturday in a state title game rematch.

“They are doing their jobs right now and they are comfortable with each other, they pick each other up,” Ricer said. “We don’t have the animosity that we had at times last year. I know winning makes it a whole lot different, and so far so good.”

“The chemistry’s phenomenal, we’re a family, we love each other and I think we have some good things ahead of us this season,” Jones said.

Reach Nick Henthorn at 304-367-2548, on Twitter @nfhenthorn_135 or by email at nhenthorn@timeswv.com.

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