The Fairfield Eagles’ baseball unit moved to 2-1 in Franklin High School RBI (Ranch Baseball Invitational) Tournament action Thursday afternoon, with a key victory over cross-town rival Teague.
Keyed by a late run and a winning sacrifice fly from Sean Collins, the Eagles secured an 9-8 victory over the Lions to finish Thursday action. The team previously dropped a contest to host team Franklin, followed by a win over Navasota to end the morning.
Luke Latham was on the mound for the Eagles, and immediately faced a rude awakening by Lions’ batters. After the first two Teague hitters advanced to base, Connor Smith smacked a big-time double to bring in Drew Satterwhite. The very next batter was David Matthews, who hit another double to bring in two runs. Just like that, 3-0 Lions.
Fairfield clawed back in the bottom of the first, keyed by Latham’s offensive heroics, sending a liner down the third base line for a triple. After Kaden Crawford’s single brought in Latham, the speedy sophomore took off from first on the next at-bat, a hit from Dane Allman. An error-laden defensive scheme for Teague led to Crawford reaching home for the team’s second run.
Not fazed by the Eagles’ scoring, Teague put up three more runs in the second inning, with two runs coming in on a huge triple down the left field line from Brylon Jackson. Jackson would come in the next at-bat, a sacrifice fly from Jackson Black.
Down 6-2, the Eagles mustered another run in the bottom of the second, using more Lions’ defensive miscues to load the bases for Gage Lane. The sophomore’s sacrifice fly brought in senior Chandler Noble, who hustled all day long, including a single to begin the half-inning.
A sacrifice on the Lions’ part in the third, this time from Satterwhite, made the game a 7-3 deficit for the Eagles heading into their at-bats. After Collins’ big-shot double to center, the senior’s ensuing run to second led to a busted left shoe. Rex Bean came in to run for Collins, and made a successful mad dash for home after a ball was hit into play by Noble.
Down 7-4, the team had Noble at third and Zane Anderson on second with two outs, only to see Eli Martin go down swinging.
With Latham still on the mound, the Eagles finally held strong in the top of the fourth, forcing three outs with no runs for the first time all day. The Eagles took advantage in their half-inning, beginning with the first batter, an infield single to center by Lane. Lane was driven in from Latham, chipping the lead to two runs.
Latham showcased his versatility by stealing second, advancing to third on a wild pitch from Lions’ thrower David Matthews, then taking home from another Matthews’ wild throw. 7-6, Lions.
Crawford also found his way around the bases in unlikely circumstances. He took first from a walk, advanced to second by way of steal, to third by way of wild pitch, and to home on a close-call single from Collins. Collins’ grounder to third was scooped up just milliseconds late, with the senior called safe with a game-tying single.
Both Latham and Matthews stayed strong on the mound despite the early problems, forcing quick, no-run innings in the fifth. With the game looking to be called early by Tournament officials, the crucial sixth inning looked to be the decider.
Teague loaded the bases on Eagle errors and walks from Latham in their turn to bat. Latham then threw four balls in five pitches at Jake Callahan, bringing in Smith for the 8-7 lead.
The Lions’ own defensive mistakes would be their undoing in the bottom of the sixth. A Crawford fly ball to center in the first at-bat ended in an error in center, allowing Crawford to advance to second. Allman was up next, hitting a grounder up the middle that was also mishandled by the Lions’ defense. Crawford scored off the Teague miscue to tie things up at 8 apiece. With Allman on second, Matthews threw yet another wild pitch during a Collins at-bat, and Allman advanced to third. One sacrifice fly later, and Allman was in for the winning run.