SHORT GAP, W.Va. — Frankfort was far from its best offensively Monday in the opening game of the Class AA Region I series against Fairmont Senior.
Fortuntately for the Falcons, they had the pitching of right-handed senior Caleb Hare to fall back on.
Hare allowed only three hits over a complete game effort, lifting Frankfort to a 2-1 victory over Fairmont Senior on the Falcons’ home field.
“Caleb’s been our go-to all year,” Frankfort coach Matt Miller said. “He does a great job and keeps runs off the board. The one run he gave up should have never happened. He basically threw another shutout.
“He kept guys off-balance like he does, he gets his ground balls and our infield has been solid all year.”
FHS (25-5) will hit the road Tuesday in an effort to complete a two-game sweep at Mary Lou Retton Park.
“Our backs are against the wall and we’ve been there before,” Fairmont Senior coach David Ricer said. “That’s how we got through sectional play. We’re going to scrap.”
Fairmont Senior (18-13) got stellar pitching from starter Chris Phares in defeat, but was unable to solve Hare.
The Falcons had a prime scoring opportunity in the second inning, but came up empty. Brady Whitacre and Brendan Whiteman drew base-on-balls to begin the frame, but Sebastian Stewart bounced into a double play to shortstop that aided Phares in keeping Frankfort off the scoreboard.
Frankfort’s Michael White led off the third with a single, before Phares induced another double play ball — this one to second — off the bat of Greg McCoy.
The Polar Bears scored their only run in the fourth to take a 1-0 lead.
Tanner Hoskinson led off with a single and was erased on Breeden Gilbert’s fielder’s choice. Gilbert advanced to second on an error and moved to third on a balk, before scoring on Connor Neal’s sacrifice fly to right.
The Polar Bears, however, didn’t lead for long.
Hare and Chandler Rhodes each singled to start the home half of the fourth. With one out, Whiteman hit a ground ball to third that was thrown away, allowing Hare to score the tying run and Rhodes to get to third.
“I told the kids we flinched,” Ricer said. “When you’re up against a team like that, he who flinches loses. We made one more mistake than they did.
Stewart followed by hitting a ground ball to second and Gilbert elected to throw home, but Rhodes slid in ahead of the tag to give the Falcons their first lead at 2-1.
“Both teams made one blunder to give the other team a run. We were just fortunate enough that ours came with two and there’s came with one,” Miller said. “Their pitcher did a great job too. Caleb kept us in the game and that’s all we ask. Our offense did just enough to win.”
With Whiteman at third and one out, Phares limited the damage by getting Spencer to pop out to short and White to bounce out to third, keeping the Polar Bears’ deficit at one run.
But Fairmont Senior never got another baserunner over the final three innings, with Hare retiring the side in order each time to preserve the win for his team.
Facing the Nos. 3-5 hitters in the seventh inning, Hare struck out Gilbert, before getting Connor Neal to groundout to short. He got Exavier Posey to hit a fly ball to center for the game’s final out.
Hare struck out four and did not issue a walk in the win.
Phares had one strikeout and walked three, but allowed only four hits.
“When you only give up two runs and go a complete game, especially against a team of that caliber, you can’t ask for more,” Ricer said.
Cameron Hines had two of the Polar Bears’ three hits.