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Jackson Newspapers - Ripley, WV
  • Devils fall to Polar Bear rally in Class AA Region I baseball final

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  • FAIRMONT – Ravenswood handcuffed host Fairmont Senior for three and one-third innings, but a five-run Polar Bear outburst  turned the tables and led to a 9-4 Polar Bear win in the Class AA Region I championship baseball game Friday at Polar Bear Field in Mary Lou Retton Park.
    Senior Heath Burgess set the tone early by blasting the third pitch of the game from Fairmont lefty Austin Norman over the left field fence for a solo homer—his high school career first.
    Handed a 1-0 lead, senior southpaw Jesse Brown made quick work of the Polar Bears striking out the side in the bottom of the first inning.
    In the top of the second, junior Ben Johnson reached on an infield hit and scored when Devon Crews’ liner to left field was misplayed. Suddenly, the Red Devils led 2-0.
    Fairmont threatened in the bottom of the third with runners at first and third with one out, but Brown wriggled out of the jam by fanning two straight Polar Bears to preserve the 2-0 advantage.
    Ravenswood got runners on base, but could not score. Then the wheels came off in the bottom of the fourth.
    A pair of walks—the first by senior Ryder Skarzinski--sandwiched around a sacrifice bunt set the stage for the Fairmont explosion. A single through the infield loaded the bases. Damien Davis walked to score the first Fairmont run (2-1) and a fielder’s choice pushed in the tying run (2-2). A wild pitch gave the Polar Bears the lead for good at 3-2. An RBI single by Rycan Ricer made it 4-2 and an Austin Norman blooper between Devon Crews and Rhys Jelich caused a near collision of the two with Crews dropping the ball with another Fairmont run scoring (5-2). In all, Fairmont sent 11 batters to the plate in the inning, scoring five runs on just two hits.
    Near the end of the melee, Brown was replaced by Isaac Crow on the mound.
    The Red Devils cut the Fairmont lead to 5-3 in the top of the fifth, when Johnson singled, stole second, advanced to third when a pickoff attempt sailed into the outfield and scored on Logan Jarrett’s sacrifice fly. Crews followed with a single and Crow drew a walk, but a strikeout left them stranded, snuffing the potential for a bigger rally.
    The Polar Bears answered in the bottom of the fifth with a single run off another walk, followed by a error on a bunt by Crow, a sacrifice bunt, hit batsman and throwing error by third baseman Matt Perry trying to complete a 5-3 double play to score the run. Another Polar Bear was gunned down at the plate by Jarrett while trying to score off the throwing error that plated the first run.
    Page 2 of 2 - Leading 6-3, Fairmont scored three more runs in the bottom of the sixth. Skarzinski and Bailey Mohr walked. Skarzinski scored when Trey Hatcher overthrew third base during a double steal. Gage Hannah then drove in Mohr with his second hit of the game, and Jayce Riley plated Hannah with his third hit of the game.
    Down 9-3, Ravenswood scored the final run of the game. Burgess walked and stole second. Jarrett walked and Crow singled to score Burgess. Norman then struck out Thomas Sturm to end the game.
    Austin Norman got the complete game pitching win for Fairmont Senior, fanning 14, walking three and scattering seven hits.
    Jesse Brown was tagged with the loss, going three and one-third innings with six strikeouts, five walks and three hits allowed. Crow tossed two innings, fanning three, walking four, allowing two hits and hitting one batter. Nathan Curtis pitched one-third inning.
    At the plate, Devon Crews and Ben Johnson (two runs scored) had two hits each to lead Ravenswood. Heath Burgess (two runs scored) added his solo homer; Isaac Crow (RBI) and Thomas Sturm, a single each; and Logan Jarrett, an RBI.
    For Fairmont Senior (22-8), who advanced to their 11th state tournament in 12 seasons, senior Gage Hannah was 2-for-2 with a double and RBI.
    Ravenswood completed a program turnaround 26-9 season under Coach Wes Swain with a sectional crown and first regional final appearance since 1999. Seniors Heath Burgess, Devon Crews, Jesse Brown and Trace Boso wrapped up their high school baseball careers. The rest of the 2014 Red Devils will return for 2015.

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