FAIRMONT, W.Va. — Philip Barbour baseball coach Jonathon Carpenter believes his youthful team will only get better as the season goes on.
If so, the Colts could be a force to be reckoned with over the next two months.
Behind a three-run first inning and strong pitching performance from Will Knight, Philip Barbour had its way Thursday in a 7-3 victory against Fairmont Senior at Mary Lou Retton Park.
“I don’t remember the last time Philip Barbour was able to beat Fairmont Senior,” Carpenter said. “That says a lot about the kids buying in and understanding their potential. All you can ask is for them to come out, give their all and see what happens.”
Knight was in control throughout and would have gone the distance were it not for an error with two outs in the seventh inning. He struck out 10 and allowed only three hits in 6 2/3 innings while pitching with a lead throughout after the Colts (4-1) scored three runs in the first inning.
“I’m not going to be cute about it — Will’s good. He hits his spots, he can break off a curve ball and he can gas it up when he needs too,” Carpenter said. “He pounded the zone and when he got behind a few batters, he was able to keep his composure and make them put it in play.”
Gage Bibey, one of six sophomores in PB’s starting lineup, helped the Colts build the early lead with a two-run single to center that brought home Trent Tallman and Knight.
Alex Wilson grounded out to third to score Chase Collier for the third run of the inning.
Knight helped his cause in the top of the second with a field’s choice to shortstop that enabled Nick Hamrick to score the Colts’ fourth run.
Philip Barbour continued to add to its lead in the fourth inning. Tanner Corder doubled with one out and eventually crossed the plate on a wild pitch, while Collier bounced out to short to bring home Tallman, which upped the advantage to 6-0.
That was more than enough run support for Knight, who struck out the final two batters of the fourth to give him seven punchouts at that point.
“He was on tonight. He was throwing it,” Fairmont Senior coach David Ricer said. “I’m not quite sure why we couldn’t hit him, because mainly we’re looking at fastballs. But when you only get three hits and you’re not pitching well, you’re not going to win games.”
Fairmont Senior (2-3) finally got to Knight in the fifth as Exavier Posey doubled to score Rhett Heston. Moments later, Cam Hines came home on a wild pitch to bring the Polar Bears to within five.
Although Trey Washenitz tossed a pair of scoreless innings in relief for FSHS, the Polar Bears never seriously threatened the Colts in the latter innings.
Knight retired the side in order in the sixth, before Rhett Heston brought home Tanner Hoskinson on a groundout to first base in the seventh. But that was all the offense the Polar Bears could muster as they finished with only three hits in defeat.
“One night we come out and play well and literally the next game, we come out flat,” Ricer said. “I don’t know if it’s a lack of respect thing, but we didn’t come to play tonight. We’re a junior/senior dominated team and we should be playing a lot better than we are right now.”
Knight and Bibey led PB’s six-hit attack with a pair of hits apiece, while Bibey drove in a pair of runs and was the only player in the game with more than one RBI.
“We’re very young and we’re still really learning the intricacies of the game,” Carpenter said. “But I think we can be really good. I expect to be good, and if we’re not, that comes back on me.”
Connor Saunders suffered the loss after allowing four runs in 1 1/3 innings. He issued four base-on-balls, scattered two hits and struck out one.